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In a first, Congress appoints state in-charge a year ahead of elections

Rajesh Pati Tripathi, 61, hails from Modi’s constituency.

TO SET its house in order before the Assembly elections in 2017, the Congress, for the first time, has appointed a state-level election in-charge a year ahead of the polls.

For the task, the party has chosen Rajesh Pati Tripathi (61), who hails from Varanasi — the Lok Sabha constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi — and is the grandson of former UP chief minister Kamla Pati Tripathi. While Rajesh Pati Tripathi is a former UP Legislative Council member, he had unsuccessfully contested the 2007 Assembly elections from Mirzapur.

Sources said Congress has decided to appoint an election in-charge a year before the elections because during the 2012 Assembly polls, some district presidents and organisational leaders had rebelled and refused to support the party’s campaign at the last moment. Starting preparations a year head of the elections would give the state unit more time to connect with leaders and party workers.

Tripathi, who has been given an office at the Uttar Pradesh Congress headquarters in Lucknow with staff and other facilities, has been tasked with the job to coordinate between the state and the district units for “all election preparations”.

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In October 2015, Tripathi had taken part in a march with Congress MLA Ajai Rai, in support of sadhus in Varanasi, who were protesting against the ban on immersing idols in Ganga and were later lathicharged by the police. Rai was arrested on charges of inciting violence during the march, which was led by Swami Avimukteshwarananda.

Recently, Tripathi’s son and Congress MLA from Marihan Assembly constituency in Mirzapur, Lalitesh Pati Tripathi, along with former MP Rajesh Mishra, had held protests against Rai’s arrest in Varanasi.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Tripathi said he would soon start camping in Lucknow. “It is a new responsibility and I would start my work as soon as possible, which includes all kind s of coordination between leaders of districts and state units for poll preparations. While I’d keep on travelling to Varanasi, I would also camp in Lucknow,” he said.

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Besides the ongoing survey being conducted by AICC observers across UP to profile the constituencies and probable candidates, similar surveys would be conducted before the elections. Tripathi would act as a “link” for all such activities.

“Apart from coordination, Congress will undertake different programmes, campaigns and protests keeping in mind the 2017 elections… we aim to expose both SP and BJP governments at the state and the Centre. This office will act as a link,” said a senior party leader.

While party observers, travelling across UP to give constituency-wise report to the AICC, would continue to work independently, they would also take help from Tripathi’s office for district-level coordination. “A parliamentary board, which is formed before an election in any state, holds discussions regarding selection of candidates… but that happens before the polls are held. Until the board is set up, reports are sought from districts and the state. For this purpose, Rajesh Pati Tripathi would act as a coordinator,” said Satyadev Tripathi, chief of Congress’ UP Communication Department.

First published on: 11-01-2016 at 12:15:47 am
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