By Express News Service
LUCKNOW: Congress leader and party’s UP in-charge Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s frequent visits to the state with an intent to revive her party’s fortunes in 2022 has unnerved the ranks and files of the BJP. The saffron party is now busy drawing a strategy to counter the Priyanka factor.
So far, in the month of February, the Congress leader has visited the state four times. She had come to Rampur on February 4 to meet the family of the farmer Navdeep Singh who had died during Delhi protests on Republic Day. Then Priyanka went to Saharanpur on February 10 to address a Kisan Mahapanchayat despite district administration’s refusal for such a gathering. On February 11, the Congress leader was in Prayagraj where her “soft Hindutva” approach came into play when she took a holy dip at Sangam.
On Monday (February 15), the Congress general secretary was again in Bijnor, the western UP district, where she addressed another Kisan Panchayat repeating the same rhetoric by accusing the Centre and PM Modi of helping “his billionaires friends” at the cost of farmers.
However, keeping a close watch on the activities of the Congress leader, the saffron brigade has gone back to the drawing board to chalk out a strategy to counter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s farmer outreach.
If the party insiders are to be believed, the BJP has the plan to give a fresh push to its farmers’ outreach by holding series of pro-farmer meetings. However, this exercises have been continuing at the party front for quite some time. The action plan envisages small, rural gatherings and its leaders have started visiting villages.
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Besides, the leadership is also contemplating giving some positions of prominence in the party to some Jat leaders. Moreover, as the buzz has it, CM Yogi Adityanath is likely to affect a cabinet reshuffle in near future. Some new inductions may take place especially for the western UP which is playing anepicentre to UP farmers’ protests. Groups of farmers backing the new farm laws, too, are active and moves are afoot to rope them in the BJP outreach plan.
As per the Congress sources, Priyanka Vadra is likely to increase the frequency of her UP visits. Meanwhile, she has also activated the senior leaders. In Farrukhabad, veteran Congress leader and former Union minister Salman Khurshid also attended a farmers’ panchayat.
“She has the plan to visit each and every assembly constituency till 2022 assembly polls,” said a Congress leader, who felt that she was new emerging hope on the horizon of UP’s political landscape.
BJP’s state leadership has activated its cadre and the leaders have already started attending farmers’ meets. The feedback from the meetings is being gathered through the grass root cadre. Special focus is being kept on those 84 assembly constituencies which the party had last in the last 2017 elections.
Party’s rural connect exercise is being spearheaded by BJP state chief Swatantra Dev Singh. It will also help the party in upcoming Panchayat polls likely in April-May.
The western UP leadership of the party seems to be cagey about the kisan mahapanchayats being organised by the Rashtriya Lok Dal, Congress, and other parties like Samajwadi Party taking part in them.
“This farmers’ protest might have benefitted the RLD and SP to some extent, but 2022 election are around a year away. We are confident of regaining the lost ground if any,” said a senior BJP functionary on the condition of anonymity.
However, the political experts feel that it would take much more for the Congress to revive itself from decimation. They feel that more than the BJP, parties like SP and BSP would be more cautious of the Congress presence as the party has a common vote bank and if Congress succeeds in gaining some ground, it would not be possible without denting the prospects of regional satraps.