On the birth anniversary of Jawaharlal Nehru, the Congress in Uttar Pradesh witnessed a revolt-like situation. More than two dozen senior party leaders, including former legislators and ministers, met at the residence of former party MP Dr Santosh Singh and expressed anguish at the fact that they had been completely sidelined in the present dispensation.
“We have decided to seek an appointment with Congress Interim President Sonia Gandhi and we will apprise her of our feelings. We are told that the party has decided to concentrate only on those below the age of 50. Most of us have served the party under Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi. Should we consider ourselves out of the party now?” said former Congress MLC Haji Siraj Mehndi.
Others who attended the meeting included K.K. Sharma, Ram Krishna Dwiwedi, Satyadev Tripathi, Vinod Chaudhary, Bodh Narain Misra among others. Most of the leaders are over 60 years of age but are physically active.
With the Uttar Pradesh Congress focusing increasingly on the youth, the seniors in the party have been alienated ever since party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra took charge of the state.
Senior leaders such as Salman Khurshid, Nirmal Khatri, Shri Prakash Jaiswal, R.P.N. Singh, Arun Kumar Singh Munna and Raj Babbar have not visited the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC) office in recent weeks and neither has the new UPCC president Ajay Kumar Lallu made any effort to gain their confidence.
“Lallu is so caught up with the fact that he is Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s blue-eyed boy that he feels there is no need to ensure the presence of seniors at party events. One by one, party leaders are leaving the Congress and Lallu will soon find himself isolated. None of the senior leaders has even been consulted in the nomination of district presidents,” said a party veteran.
Former minister and senior Congress leader Ammar Rizvi is the latest in the list of those who have quit the Congress to join the BJP in UP.
Senior Congress leader Vinod Chaudhary, who has resigned as a member of the party’s disciplinary committee, said, “The office-bearers appointed in the new committee are mostly unknown faces. Since I do not know the majority of them, how can I work with them?”
The leaders who met on Thursday also condemned the withdrawal of SPG cover from the Gandhi family. They said they would soon write to the Prime Minister seeking revocation of the decision since the Gandhi family continues to face a threat from various terror groups.