Trouble in the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP) may give a boost to the ailing Congress party gearing up for civic polls in Uttar Pradesh, state Congress leaders believe. The party hopes that it will be able to regain the support of Brahmins and Muslims, who had together scripted its electoral success till the late eighties in the state.
In the recent assembly elections in UP, the Congress won only seven seats, recording one of its worst performances ever. But party leaders are confident that it will make its presence felt in the elections to 14 municipal corporations, headed by mayors. The election process will be completed by the first week of July.
UP Congress leaders are eying three important mayoral elections — in Lucknow, because it is the state capital, Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s parliamentary constituency, and Gorakhpur, which is chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s bastion. “We are confident of staging a surprise in the urban local body polls,” UP Congress spokesperson Ashok Singh told PTI.
“If the party manages to wrest Lucknow, Varanasi and Gorakhpur from the BJP in the mayoral elections, it will exponentially boost the morale of Congress workers, and at the same time strengthen the party in the urban areas of the state,” he said. The party has already started looking for suitable candidates, especially young workers, who could be the future face of the party, he said.
Party insiders said the prospective candidates included Viraj Das Gupta, son of former senior party leader Akhilesh Das Gupta, and Shekhar Dixit, who joined the Congress during the 2017 UP assembly election. Dixit said, “I may contest the mayoral elections, if former CM of Delhi Sheila Dikshit jee tells me to do so.” Dikshit is among those steering the party in UP. Singh described Viraj as “the best choice” for the Congress.
“He is the real torch bearer of the legacy of his father who was the last Congress mayor of Lucknow. Viraj will also take forward the legacy of his grandfather and former UP Chief Minister Babu Banarasi Das,” he said. The party believes the expulsion of senior party leader Naseemuddin Siddiqui from the BSP and the feud between former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and his father would benefit the Congress.
Singh hinted that Muslims might gradually drift back to the Congress, and stressed that Brahmins, who had been traditional voters of the Congress, were now getting “disillusioned” with the BJP and its policies. “This will prove to be quite beneficial for the party in the mayoral polls, and will certainly give a new lease of life to the party. The combination of Brahmins and Muslims will prove to be an effective one,” the UP Congress spokesperson said. The BJP shrugged off the Congress claims.
“By focussing only on three municipal corporations — Lucknow, Varanasi and Gorakhpur – the Congress has already conceded defeat in rest of the 11 municipal corporations,” UP BJP spokesperson Manish Shukla said. The people of UP, Shukla said, endorsed the work being done by the government of Adityanath. “They will give another overwhelming mandate to the BJP in the urban local body elections,” he said.