New UP Congress chief Lallu meets Sonia, Priyanka

New Delhi: A day after assuming charge as the new Uttar Pradesh Congress chief, Ajay Kumar Lallu met party General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi here on Saturday. Lallu later met Congress Interim President Sonia Gandhi also.

Sonia Gandhi advised Lallu to work with zeal and involve everybody to strengthen the party at the grassroots level, a source said. She also asked him to give a chance to new people.

Sources say Priyanka Gandhi also had a feedback meeting with all the six secretaries of the state. They gave their inputs on the upcoming bypolls.

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The Congress is contesting all the bypolls in the state. Many leaders have been assigned to work for the party.

The leaders apprised Priyanka about the Chinmayanand case in Shahjahanpur.

The General Secretary in-charge wanted to know about the agitation in Shahjahanpur, where the administration did not give permission for a procession earlier this month.

The Congress has appointed Lallu as state president, but during his oath taking ceremony on Friday many senior leaders were conspicuous by their absence.

The dissent is out in the open. Former Varanasi MP Rajesh Mishra said that he will not be able to advise Priyanka Gandhi any more.

Another leader Siraj Mehndi resigned from the party after Lallu’s appointment. Sources say many senior leaders are upset about not being included in the new team.

The Congress party has organised a three-day workshop in Rae Bareli to train its workers and leaders.

Those present in the meeting were Dheeraj Gurjar, Zubair Ahmed, Rohit Chowdhary, Sachin Naik, all secretaries attached to Priyanka Gandhi.

The party’s main challenge is to contain dissent, said a leader.

In sharp contrast, leaders who had joined the Congress on the eve of the Lok Sabha elections have been given organisational responsibilities. These include Naseemuddin Siddiqui, Raj Kishore Singh, Kaiser Jahan Ansari, Rakesh Sachan — all of whom are recent entrants to the Congress.

“They joined the Congress because they fell out with the leadership of their parent parties and not because they subscribed to the Congress ideology. They will move to greener pastures at the appropriate time again,” said another leader.

The Congress committee has given around 45 per cent representation to OBCs which, party leaders claim, is ‘another political blunder’.

“The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is focusing on OBCs and so are the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). The upper castes and Muslims are feeling completely alienated. The Congress should have reached out to the Brahmins and Thakurs in order to fill the vacuum, but by going all out to woo OBCs, the party has committed a political blunder,” said a former president of the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee.

Murmurs are also being heard in Congress circles about associates of former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi being sidelined in the new set up.

“We never imagined that there would be strife within the family too. Those who have worked under Rahul Gandhi have been ignored and this does not augur well for the future of the Congress. In fact you can expect an exodus from the party if this attitude continues,” said a senior leader.

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