Coming close on the heels of BJP’s election preparation meetings for UP in which CM Yogi Adityanath and other leaders participated, the Samajwadi Party recently held a highly-publicised meeting in Naimisharanya, a small but highly revered Hindu pilgrimage centre in Sitapur district, 92 km from Lucknow. Since major Hindu pilgrimage centres like Varanasi, Mathura, Prayagraj and Ayodhya figure too prominently on the BJP agenda, the SP’s choice becomes significant. Akhilesh invoked blessings from saints, attended a havan and suggested that pursuing “hard” Hindutva rather than BJP’s “soft” card would be his party’s credo. It is believed to be a course correction after his party colleague Swami Prasad Maurya’s controversial statements on the Ramcharitmanas angered large sections of Hindus.
UP CONG POST TOO HOT TO HANDLE
For the Congress, bigger than the question of whether the party has to go it alone in UP in 2024 or in collaboration with the Samajwadi Party as per a possible opposition unity plan, is the decision as to who should be entrusted with the responsibility of this huge state. In January 2019, prior to the Lok Sabha election, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was made in-charge of UP east, and Jyotiraditya Scindia was given charge of UP west. Some months later as Scindia quit the party, Priyanka was given the entire state to handle. Since then, the tally of the party has kept going down, resting at 1 in Lok Sabha and 2 in Assembly at present. Now, no senior leader is said to be ready to take on this post as Priyanka gets busy all over India.
SPLIT OVER TARGETING SCINDIA
In Madhya Pradesh, as Priyanka Gandhi Vadra launched her party’s campaign for Assembly elections scheduled later this year and her first outing in Jabalpur targeted the BJP government. In the past few months, meanwhile, MP Congress leaders especially Kamal Nath and Jeetu Patwari, have been relentlessly attacking Jyotiraditya Scindia and the general feeling in MPCC is that Scindia needs to be in the centre of the Congress campaign as much as the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government. So far, Priyanka has refrained from taking Scindia’s name even though she targeted him by saying that “some leaders in MP had abandoned the party’s ideology for the sake of power.” The state Congress leaders, it is believed, would prefer a more direct attack.