August 20, 2016 4:27:49 am
It’s been 27 years since Congress lost power in Uttar Pradesh. As the party prepares to send its senior leaders on yatras across state beginning August 21, Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Sinh, who is chairman of the campaign committee for 2017 Assembly polls and is traveling with chief ministerial candidate Sheila Dikshit, tells MAULSHREE SETH how Congress is trying to correct its mistakes and establish contact with people, which it lost.
Congress is making all out attempts to revive itself in UP and also nationally through UP. Senior leaders are being kept on their toes for rigorous pre-poll campaign.
I have been watching Congress for past 40 years and the organisation has remained more or less the same. Sometimes, it seems more vibrant and visible and at others it does not. Also, Congress is mass based party and not cadre based and thus it comes and goes out of power with the support of masses. There were certain shortcomings because of which we lost power but it does not mean that we stopped existing. We realise that Congress’s power lies in taking everyone along. We are going to reach out to people at every level possible and talk about “Jiyo or Jine do”, “Na Jaat dekho, na paat dekho”, and “chalo logon ko milake, bant ke nahi”.
What were the shortcomings you speak of and how is the party preparing to remove them for better results in 2017?
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It is my personal opinion that we lost power because of our failure to tell people about what we had done. Here (in UP), (BSP chief) Mayawati spoke as if MGNREGA was her scheme. In Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj (Singh Chauhan) was doing the same thing with central schemes. There was a major disconnect with people, which led to this. UPA did lot of work for all sections but we failed to communicate it. But now we are going to reach out to people and tell them the truth. This is why, with “27 saal UP behal” we are telling people how they have suffered during non-Congress governments in the state.
What all would Congress tell people as it starts one-and-a-half month of yatras from August 21?
We are going to tell people how BJP has failed on its promises in past two years, how it has done nothing new and is only taking forward things started during UPA regime in new form and how Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is also an MP from UP, has not taken the prevailing situation in Kashmir seriously and was rather talking about Balochistan. We will speak about corrupt practices of BSP and lawlessness during present Samajwadi Party regime. Akhilesh has been an utter failure. His own uncle and cabinet minister is talking about how difficult it is for him to get work done by his officials, so just imagine the situation that a poor farmer faces on ground for his small works. We would speak about these and more.
But Akhilesh Yadav seems to be banking on development projects to showcase before election?
Selected projects in and around Lucknow or Etawah, does not define development of the entire state. When people across the state feel insecure in their own villages, fear for security of women of the house then talks of Metro Rail in Lucknow hardly affects them. The present government has failed miserably to provide security to its people, there are day-light murders and extortion especially in region, which they call their own i.e. Etah, Etawah, Firozabad etc. Amidst all this, talk of selected projects is a mere eye wash. We will speak about these things to the public, when we move out. If you ask me, President’s Rule should be clamped in UP.
After these yatras end on October 9, what would be party’s next campaign to connect with public?
As of now, we are focusing on yatras but our next step would be to start holding workers meeting in every Assembly segment across the state. These meeting will be held by each and every frontal organisation, be it Seva Dal, Youth Congress or Congress. Our main motive is to reach out to as many people as possible.
Amethi is your native place and also the Parliamentary constituency of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. In the recent past, several projects have moved out of Amethi. You would be visiting Amethi as well as Varanasi during the yatras, what are issues that you would touch?
Smriti Irani contested from Amethi and lost. Instead of giving anything to Amethi, BJP is indulging into politics of vengeance as far as Amethi is concerned, be it IIIT, food park or Hindustan Paper mill. We do not believe in politics of vengeance. We just plan to make people aware. In Varanasi, we saw poor roads, water logging, garbage dumps, which was surprising at a time when PM talks of Swacch Bharat Abhiyan. In Kanpur, we raised issues concerning Akhilesh government.
There are talks about 25 per cent of seats being given to Brahmins. Poll strategist Prashant Kishor is said to have held separate meeting with a section of leaders?
Prashant Kishor is working for the party to prepare campaign strategy but let me make it very clear that he is not deciding political policy of the party or who should go where. Party has its own structure, where party high command takes decisions, senior leaders discuss issues. Congress always gives ticket to deserving people and it should never be seen on caste lines.
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