Senior leaders parting ways pester Congress ahead of UP polls

The leaders' exits come at a time when the Congress is working hard to avoid the humiliation of the 2017 assembly polls
Last Updated 25 September 2021, 16:41 IST

Despite Priyanka Gandhi Vadra's earnest effort to gear up the Congress for next year's Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, the problem of senior leaders choosing to part ways continues to vex the party.

The latest to bid adieu is Lalitesh Pati Tripathi, the great-grandson of late Congress stalwart Kamalapati Tripathi. This came a few months after ex-Union minister Jitin Prasada, the son of former Congress leader Jitendra Prasad, crossed over to the BJP.

While some in the Congress blamed opponents of poaching its leaders, especially those belonging to the Brahmin caste, others termed the quitting "unfortunate" which these leaders will "regret in near future".

However, expelled Congressman and former MLC Siraj Mehdi claimed that this trend shows dissatisfaction within the party leadership and it is not confined to Uttar Pradesh.

Congress leaders from Ballia -- Shailendra Singh and Rajesh Singh -- have recently quit the party alleging that old and loyal party people were being neglected.

These exits come at a time when the Congress is working hard to avoid the humiliation of the 2017 Assembly polls when it could win just seven seats in the 403-member Uttar Pradesh Assembly.

The grand old party has already announced that it will fight the 2021 elections without aligning with any big political party.

Some in the Congress are of the view that a "poaching game" is going on and the party leadership must remain alert.

"Both Jitin Prasad and Lalitesh Tripathi are big names despite the Congress being out of power for 30 years in the state now. Their parting ways with the party as the election approaches has a meaning," a leader of the Congress' Uttar Pradesh unit said.

Tripathi, the vice-president of Congress' Uttar Pradesh unit on Thursday said he has resigned from all posts and primary membership of the party.

He said it was an emotional decision for him to move away from the commitment of more than 100 years that his family had shown.

"But in the present circumstances "when the families that had given their blood and sweat for the party and the workers who braved beatings for the party movement were not being respected, his conscience does not allow him to continue in any position," Tripathi had said.

Jitin Prasada, while joining the BJP a few months ago, had said that he parted ways with the Congress not because of any individual or for any post, but due to the party's shrinking vote base and the "rising disconnect" between it and the people of Uttar Pradesh.

"Lalitesh Tripathi's exit is unfortunate. He is a fourth-generation leader of his family which had been very close to the Nehru-Gandhi family and got proper respect and responsibility," member of the media advisory team Dwijendra Tripathi told PTI.

Another leader pointed out that leaders who got everything in the party are now "running away seeking better prospects in other parties" as the elections are close.

They will regret this decision when they will not get as much respect as they got here, he claimed in reference to Jitin Prasada.

On the other hand, Mehdi claimed that senior leaders were quitting the party due to the humiliation they faced. Congress' former women wing chief Sushmita Dev and ex-Punjab chief minister Amrinder Singh felt humiliated in the party in recent times, he claimed

Mehdi was among the 11 senior leaders who were expelled from the Congress in 2019 for six years for allegedly tarnishing the party's image and opposing its leadership's decisions at public forums.

"The problem is that despite seeking time from the leadership for an audience, party people are not able to connect with them," Mehdi claimed, adding that people like him, who have stayed with the party for long, want it to overcome all hurdles and regain strength.

He said that he will soon write Amrinder Singh and other Congress leaders inviting them to tour Uttar Pradesh and help in restoring the pride of the party.

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(Published 25 September 2021, 14:43 IST)

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