Debating India

UP ELECTIONS

Rahul will lead Cong in UP polls: Khurshid

Sunday 6 August 2006, by SRIVASTAVA*Piyush

LUCKNOW, AUGUST 5 : Rahul Gandhi will be the only face of the Congress for the Assembly elections and the party will contest on 200 seats, sharing the remaining 204 with “smaller parties”, Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee president Salman Khurshid has said.

Speaking to The Sunday Express in an exclusive interview, Khurshid said: “There shouldn’t be any doubt in the mind of the people that Rahul Gandhi will lead the party in UP and the party will mould itself according to his plan. This exercise will be started after the Kanpur rally on August 8, where he will be present along with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and kick off the Assembly election campaign.”

Khurshid said that besides addressing rallies, Rahul Gandhi will make an extensive public contact programme before the elections.

He said Rahul Gandhi had proved his organisational abilities and had proved an instant hit, given the way he mingled with grassroots workers and had been spending substantial time with district level leaders.

Normally, he is supposed to be supporting Sonia Gandhi,” said Khurshid. “But it is quite clear now that in UP, he will command the election campaign.”

The party plans to select candidates in two phases.

In the first phase, we are identifying 200 seats where either we had won the last election or got defeated by a small margin. In the second phase, we will offer the remaining seats to our pre-poll allies - strictly, smaller regional parties of the backward classes and the downtrodden,” said Khurshid. “If possible, we will also try to adjust some of our financially able and popular youth leaders on the remaining seats.”

He hinted that the Congress was not averse to tie-ups with the Jan Morcha Alliance of V P Singh, a conglomeration of small regional parties, or the People’s Democratic Front, launched by some Muslim clerics.

However, the PCC chief clarified that there was no formal communication with either group so far, although Sonia Gandhi had deliberated upon points on which these groups matched the Congress.

Khurshid claimed that all smaller parties in Uttar Pradesh were in the process of formulating a strategy to oust the Samajwadi Party government, pointing out that Om Prakash Rajbhar, leader of the Bharat Samaj Party, and Hemant Kushwaha of the Samanta Dal had already met Sonia Gandhi to discuss possible election arrangements.

I cannot divulge much before our Kanpur rally but we have no hesitation in accepting that the Congress Party has limited resources in the state, with limited possibilities,” he said. “We have received enough setbacks in the last 15 years and so need to move in a calculative manner to gain the maximum.”

See online : The Indian Express

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