Congress MP and Working Committee member Deepender Singh Hooda, who is also part of the Screening Committee for candidates in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh polls, says the struggle by party General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi will definitely play a role in changing the political dynamics in the state.
Hooda, who was in Lucknow for a meeting of the Screening Committee, told IANS in an interview that the ongoing farmers’ agitations in the state following the violence in Lakhimpur Kheri earlier this month will also impact the state’s politics.
Following are excerpts of the interview.
Q: You are active in the Congress Screening Committee for UP elections. When will the candidates be finalised?
A: We are presently in initial discussions and whenever additional developments ensue, we will share the information accordingly. In Uttar Pradesh, there is a new energy in the Congress due to the active struggle led by Priyanka Gandhi for the rights of the people. The incident at Lakhimpur Kheri is a shining example and this new energy in the party will show its effect in the times to come.
Q: What kind of feedback are you getting after the Lakhimpur Kheri episode, given that the Congress in UP is not as as strong as in Haryana?
A: Our party organisation is working well in Uttar Pradesh and the efforts over the past two years have borne fruit. While I accept that our strength in the Assembly is not of the level of the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, but we are ahead in the number of people we can bring out on the streets… due to Priyanka Gandhi’s struggles, we now have moral force.
Lakhimpur Kheri lit the spark and will lead to change in the state’s politics. Priyanka Gandhi has laid the foundations for this change and the change in the state will impact national politics.
Q: Now Priyanka Gandhi’s activities have also inspired the SP to begin public activities…
A: We are not fighting the BJP from now, but for a long time in order to crush its arrogance… If you go among the common people, you will come to know that they feel the Samajwadi Party was given the responsibility of being the primary opposition, but it has not fulfilled that responsibility. And this is a key responsibility in a democracy.
Q: You are a member of the CWC, the party’s highest decision-making body, which is slated to meet soon. Do you feel that Rahul Gandhi should take over as the party chief again?
A: I am a member of the CWC and will speak on the organisational matters in the appropriate forum. But yes, it cannot be denied that crores of Congress workers want Rahul Gandhi to take over. Any discussion on this should only take place in the CWC.
Q: Your family is one of the leading ones in the Jat community. What effect of the ongoing farmers’ agitation do you see on Jats in Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh?
A: The sympathy of the people in Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh is with the protesting farmers. And in Uttar Pradesh, it will not remain confined to this region after the Lakhimpur Kheri episode. It will have an impact all over the state.