In run-up to LS polls, exodus from UP Cong

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Rahul Gandhi Rahul Gandhi
Summary25 Cong leaders who contested 2012 Assembly polls in state have defected to other parties, more to follow suit.

More than 25 leaders, who contested 2012 Assembly elections in UP as Congress candidates, have left the party in search of better avenues while several others are ready to take flight.

Of these, a majority are those who were roped in from political parties as part of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s experiment to strengthen party base. Rahul Gandhi had held public meetings and road shows to gather votes for some of them.

To cite an example, Congress’s Nautanwa MLA Kaushal Kishore Singh Munna only attends the ruling Samajwadi Party’s (SP) functions. Maharajganj district Congress president Tribhuvan Nath Mishra, who has already complained to the party high-command, said, “He won the seat on Congress ticket but attends all SP public meetings. He has not resigned from party. It is demoralising for the cadre.”

Congressmen in Mainpuri were caught off guard when they saw Urmila Singh and Kalicharan Yadav sharing dais with SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav during a rally in the district on November 7. Urmila was Congress candidate from Karhal and Kalicharan had contested from Mainpuri Assembly seat in 2012 and had lost. Both are distant relatives of the SP supremo and were inducted to strengthen Congress in Yadav bastion.

“They did not give resign, but when they shared stage with Mulayam, there was hardly anything left to say,” said Gopal Kumar Kulshrestha, Mainpuri district Congress president Mainpuri.

Among worst affected districts are Badaun and Saharanpur. In Badaun, three senior leaders, who contested Assembly elections as Congress nominee in 2012, have left the party. While Bhagwan Singh Shakya, who had contested from Shekhupura, joined BJP, Ajit Kumar Yadav (Gunnaur) and Shailesh Pathak (Dataganj) shifted base to SP.

Yadav and Shakya had joined Congress from other parties. Union Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma had played a significant role in ensuring ticket for the trio and Rahul Gandhi had addressed a rally in support of Yadav in Gunnaur.

The scene is no better in Saharanpur. Former MLA Imran Masood, nephew of Former Congress MP Rashid Masood, has already been declared SP’s Lok Sabha candidate from Saharanpur, days after he returned to the ruling party in September.

Imran had defected to Congress ahead of the 2012 poll and contested from Nakur. However, when he returned to SP, he took along three other Congressmen — Naresh Saini, Abdul Wahid, and Saleem Ahmad Engineer. Saini, Wahid and Engineer — all considered close to Rashid Masood — contested as Congress nominees from Behat,

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