Upper caste candidates Pramod Tewari, Rajesh Mishra in race.
New Delhi: To woo the upper castes in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress is all set to bring back a Brahmin face as its state unit chief. After facing drubbing in UP Assembly elections, Congress chief Raj Babbar had already taken responsibility for the party’s defeat. Reports say he will now be replaced by an upper caste Hindu face. Though there are several options with the Congress, the party wants to shed its “pro-Muslim and anti-Hindu image” as was branded by the BJP and Sangh.
Leading the race for the top post is Rajya Sabha MP and former UP Congress chief Pramod Tewari and former Lok Sabha MP from Varanasi, Rajesh Mishra.
Incidentally, Mr Tewari’s daughter, Aradhana Tewari, is one of the seven MLAs who were elected in the Assembly elections. She is in the race to become the party leader in the Assembly, though the party looks keen on making Ajay Singh ‘Lallu’ the leader, said sources, adding: “If the daughter loses, the father can be accommodated as the state chief.”
Mr Tewari is the old Congress warhorse of UP. He holds the record of maximum successive wins from one Assembly constituency. After he was elected to the Rajya Sabha, he vacated his Assembly seat for his daughter, who has been winning ever since.
While Rajesh Mishra’s name has also been doing the rounds for long. He has been a student leader in Benaras Hindu University and has risen up through the ranks in the Congress hierarchy. He is known to be close to current state general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad. The Congress was routed in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand Assembly elections as well as in the municipal elections in Delhi and Mumbai. After the loss, all unit chiefs had sent in their resignations but only Uttarakhand unit chief was replaced.
Delhi chief Ajay Maken and Mumbai chief Sanjay Nirupam also continue to hold the posts despite protests. UP state chief Raj Babbar is also facing resentment within the party. Insiders say, “He was more of a star campaigner than an organisation man.”
The name of former Union minister Jitin Prasada, also a Brahmin, is also doing the rounds but he is not expected to make it to the post.
Currently, the Congress is in a revamp mode with the change of two state chiefs and two state General Secretaries in the AICC. The change in Uttar Pradesh Congress is expected any day now.