WARY OF its poor performance beginning with 2014 Lok Sabha elections to the recent panchayat polls in the state, the Congress has set about to ensure its vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s parliamentary seat, Amethi, does not slip out of its hand.
For this, the party’s president for the district, Yogendra Mishra, has been camping in Delhi for the past two days.
And, significantly, in its cause of keeping the focus primarily on Amethi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, too, has become a participant.
“We plan to take up special programmes in the district in the coming days such as conducting training sessions for the panchayat-level teams. It is to prepare the plan that I have been called here (Delhi),” Mishra told The Indian Express over phone from the national capital.
The leader confirmed meeting both Rahul and Priyanka on Monday. He said he was called by the two senior leaders to discuss the “strategy” for next year’s Assembly elections and to finalise the “candidate” from the seat.
While he refused to give further details, sources in the state unit said the central leadership has been “concerned” ever since the poor performance in the panchayat polls, in which Amethi, too, returned a worrying figure.
Even in the 2012 UP elections, Congress could win only two of the five Assembly seats that fall under Amethi Lok Sabha constituency — Tiloi and Jagdishpur. The ruling Samajwadi Party has already announced its candidates for these two seats when it released its first list for the Assembly elections last week.
But local Congress leaders believe that more than SP candidates, Mayawati-led BSP, which holds sway over a considerable share of voters on these seats, is a bigger concern for them and, alongside BJP, could put up a stiff challenge overall in the state in 2017.
But the party’s primary concern, until strategies for other constituencies shape up, will continue to be Amethi.
“Amethi requires more focus. Apart from constant interference of Smriti Irani (who lost to Rahul Gandhi in the Lok Sabha elections), SP and BSP are also aggressive in their campaign for the Assembly elections. While we are not too much troubled with SP, and so far even BJP has not been able to find any good candidate, BSP stands the chance to draw votes if we becomes weak here,” explained a senior Congress leader from the district.
In a poll-minded move, Irani had recently sent sarees for distribution among people in each of the five Assembly segments on the occasion of Holi. She is expected to visit the district on April 14, on Dalit icon B R Ambedkar’s birth anniversary.
Govind Singh, BJP’s spokesperson in Amethi, said: “As per the present schedule, the minister is expected to be here on April 14. She would distribute high quality seeds to farmers in Tiloi and Jagdishpur Assembly constituencies.”