Priyanka replaces Rahul in Congress in UP

Desperate to make a comeback and stay politically relevant in Uttar Pradesh, the transformation of the state unit of the Congress was quiet though not entirely unexpected.

Barely a few months back it was the then Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who dominated the party hoardings and the speeches of the state leaders.

On Friday however, when the new UP Congress president Ajay Kumar Lallu assumed charge of the party, there hardly any mention of Rahul in the speeches of the party leaders.

Instead, it was Congress general secretary and Rahul's sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who dominated the hoardings put up to welcome Lallu and also the speeches of the Congress leaders.

The majority of hoardings put up on the route taken by the new state party president had the pictures of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka besides some senior UP unit leaders.

Leaders after leaders, who welcomed Lallu's appointment, hailed Priyanka as a ''charismatic'' leader, who would certainly help the grand old party regain its past glory in the state.

Some state leaders attributed it to Rahul's ''failure'' to take ''interest'' in the affairs of the party in UP. ''After the Amethi defeat, Rahul has stopped interacting with state leaders,'' said a local Congress leader while speaking to DH.

He said that Rahul visited the state only once after the Lok Sabha polls' results were declared but Priyanka not only paid several visits to the state but also took part in party sponsored protest demonstrations.   

Another leader said on condition of anonymity that Rahul was ''surrounded'' by a ''coterie'' and that his decisions were largely influenced by it.

''Priyanka has shown that she is not surrounded by any coterie...she always prefers leaders from the grass root....the new state Congress committee is an example,'' the leader remarked.

The Congress general secretary would be on a three-day visit to UP from Sunday.

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