Priyanka, poster and party prestige

The desperation of Congress units rises due to the weakened position of Congress. But the stunts will not move anything.

Looking at the constant amount of dissent that Congress is generating within its various factions, one can understand the bad position it is currently at.

Although it went places ahead to clear the air of Priyanka Gandhi’s possible appearance in the campaign scene, it’s Allahabad unit moved one step ahead in demanding Priyanka’s presence in the elections as a candidate.

The Allahabad faction not only passed a resolution and sent a letter to Sonia Gandhi seeking to allow her daughter Priyanka to run from Phulpur seat in Uttar Pradesh, it also raised hoarding at various places for the same.

The hoardings read: “Maiyya ab rehti beemar, Bhaiya par badh gaya bhaar, Priyanka Phulpur se bano ummidwaar, party ka karo prachar, Congress ki sarkar banao teesri baar” (The mother, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, is ill, brother Rahul Gandhi has added responsibility, so Priyanka needs to campaign and step into the poll fray from Phulpur to lead Congress to a third time win in the general elections.)

It all began on Sunday when Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee observer Anil Singh, a former MLA, arrived in Allahabad to get a feedback on likely candidates for the Allahabad and Phulpur Parliamentary constituencies. He held two meetings — one with the District Congress Committee (DCC) and the other with the City Congress Committee (CCC).

In the DCC meeting the name of its chief, Shyam Krishna Pandey, was proposed for Phulpur constituency. Later in the day, during the CCC meeting, its chief, Abhay Awasthi, proposed Priyanka’s name, which was passed unanimously.

The district and city unit chiefs are now at loggerheads condemning each other for their respective action.

Moreover, the UPCC on Wednesday issued notices to its office bearers in Allahabad for putting up hoardings depicting Congress president Sonia Gandhi as “beemar” (ill).

It is to be noted that the Phulpur constituency once belonged to Priyanka’s grandfather and first prime minister if India Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru. But the party has lost its control over the area now.

Explaining the reason for proposing Priyanka’s name, Awasthi told media, “Her great grand-father, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, represented Phulpur constituency. After Panditji, his sister Vijay Laxmi Pandit represented it. Under the latest de-limitation scheme, two city-based constituencies — Allahabad (North) and Allahabad (West) — are now part of the Phulpur constituency. Anand Bhawan and Swaraj Bhawan lie in Allahabad (North). Therefore, we wanted that she should contest the elections from here.”

Awasthi added that with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi wanting a feedback from the grassroots level about the candidates, it was a democratic exercise through which the feelings of the workers has been expressed. “We have not written any letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and the said proposal will reach her only through proper channel. I do not see anything wrong in this,” he said.

Meanwhile, a show cause notice was issued to district secretary Haseeb Ahmad and party leader Shreesh Chandra Dubey over the matter. However, the supposed offender in this case, Awasthi showed no knowledge of the case.

“I have not seen it, but somebody informed me over the phone. I will get a report and see if any punitive action can be taken against those who have done this act,” said Awasthi.

Posters have got Awasthi in trouble in the past too. During Kumbh-2013 too, he had portrayed Rahul as Lord Shiva and his mother as Rani Lakshmi Bai. He was suspended by then zonal president, Vivek Singh, for his activity. Later, however, he was re-instated in the party.

In the Assembly elections of 2012 also, he had got in trouble for putting up a controversial poster.

Apart from the publicity stunts put up by regional sections, it is highly unlikely that Congress will reconsider its decision of not letting Priyanka campaign for the party. The Raebareli and Amethi stories are still fresh in their mind.

And anyway, the party high command and Rahul’s words are final. What will a small party unit move?

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