Even as Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra makes efforts to galvanize the state organisation before the 2022 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, her band of loyalists seem determined to undo her efforts, say some party leaders.
Priyanka had asked party office bearers to ensure the return of veteran leaders who had been ‘unfairly ‘expelled from the party in 2019.
The Congress state leaders are now asking the expelled veterans to submit an apology so that they can be taken back into the party.
“Why should I apologise? What have we done? We simply held a meeting to celebrate Nehru Jayanti on November 14, 2019, and were expelled for anti-party activities. If this is an anti-party activity, I would rather remain outside the Congress,” said former Congress MLC Haji Siraj Mehndi.
He had been telephonically asked by a Congress leader to give a ‘two-line apology’ so that his expulsion could be revoked, Mehndi added.
Another expelled leader and former Minister, Satyadev Tripathi said he had also received a call, saying that the party would revoke his expulsion if he apologised.
“What is there to apologise for? Celebrating Nehru’s birthday seems to be an anti-party activity and if it is so, I would prefer to remain expelled,” he added.
The exodus in the Congress has gained momentum in recent months and nearly every leader who has left the party blamed the state leadership and Priyanka’s coterie for their disillusionment with the party.
Gayadeen Anuragi, the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC) Vice-President and former MLA, along with another former party MLA Vinod Chaturvedi have joined the Samajwadi Party.
Anuragi said he was not satisfied with the functioning of the Congress in Uttar Pradesh.
“If our leaders cannot meet us and interact with us, what is the point of remaining in the party?” he asked.
Earlier in September, another UPCC Vice-President Lalitesh Pati Tripathi, grandson of late Kamlapati Tripathi left the party.
Another veteran leader Rajesh Pati Tripathi of the same family has not been invited for the rally in Varanasi on Sunday.
Former Congress MLA, Imran Masood of Saharanpur has already made it clear that he would prefer Samajwadi Party to contest the elections. His departure from the Congress is only a matter of time.
A senior leader, said to be close to Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, said, “Priyanka is working so hard to revive the Congress but some people close to her are determined to undo her efforts and retain their own importance. I think she should take things in her hands and interact directly with party workers.”