New Delhi: The problems for the Congress party have just begun after the exit of its leader from Uttar Pradesh R.P.N. Singh, who has joined the BJP. The inability of the Congress to stop the exodus of its leaders from a poll-bound state has not only disheartened the cadres but has also motivated its leaders to look for greener pastures for themselves.
Mr Singh belonging to a Congress family worked his way up in the Congress hierarchy after the untimely brutal murder of his father C.P.N. Singh, who was a Union minister of state for defence in the Indira Gandhi Cabinet and was shot dead by his cousin during the 1989 poll campaign. Starting as the Youth Congress president in Uttar Pradesh to a two-term MLA, one-term MP and Union minister, he was currently the incharge of Jharkhand state. He was credited for forging the Congress’ alliance with Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) in the state and forming the government there.
Insiders claim that Mr Singh was isolated in the Uttar Pradesh scheme of things of the Congress and was unable to see a future for himself and his party. The leaders and staff close to the general secretary incharge, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, were not favourably inclined towards him. In the entire campaign that was crafted in Uttar Pradesh, there was no role for him. Be it the Lakhimpur Kheri incident last year or the Hathras rape case earlier, his services were not sought by the party. The Congress powers chose to keep Mr Singh out of the equation. In the run up to the elections also, he was not consulted. Perhaps his opinion was taken only on the Padrauna Assembly seat out of his parliamentary constituency of Kushinagar. The manifesto committee, the candidate selection committee and the core committee did not have a place for Mr Singh. Just two days before his exit, he was made a star campaigner along with 25 others.
The desperation in the party leaders from Uttar Pradesh is very much visible. In the last six months, several leaders have quit the party. They include Jitin Prasada, Harindra Malik and his son Pankaj Malik, Imran Masood, Supriya Aaron, sitting Bareilly MLA, and her husband Praveen Singh Aaron, who is a former Lok Sabha MP. All of them claim that the future of the party is not bright in the state
There is a strong buzz that some other leaders may also shift base before the polls. Sources say that the state unit president Ajay Kumar Lallu may also jump ship, a claim that has been strongly denied so far. However, Mr Lallu was conspicuous by his absence on the occasion of the manifesto release. He had later said that he couldn’t make it to the event owing to the foggy conditions and low visibility on roads.
The coming weeks for the party are going to be crucial. It has to try and get a respectable total in the home state of the party high command. Also, it has to ensure that the desertions that are happening at an alarming rate are arrested at the earliest. This trend not only makes for bad optics but also disheartens the ordinary Congress worker.