Exclusive Interview with : Ghulam Nabi Azad, Congress leader, who is the party's new in-charge of poll-bound Uttar Prade
Updated on: 17 Jun 2016
The Congress seems to have found a measure to quell the growing dissidence: empower its general secretaries at the national level. Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, who is the party's new in-charge of poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, tells Mehboob Jeelani that in the coming days, the general secretaries will vet the leaders' complaints and ensure most of them are resolved at the State level. Excerpts:
Starting with the fact that Uttar Pradesh has always been a challenging State for the Congress, how different is the upcoming election from the previous ones?
The difference is that when I was the general secretary of U.P. earlier, V.P. Singh was heading an anti-Congress front which was a conglomerate of regional parties which included the BJP, the BSP, the SP and a breakaway group of the Congress led by Arun Nehru. I have seen that phase as the State in-charge and it was a tough time. It was the Congress versus everybody. But there wasn't much of caste-influenced politics back then. It became a dominant factor in the 1990s and the Congress was pushed behind. During the NDA-I led by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee communal politics entered into U.P. with the BJP and the BSP forming a coalition government. And since then we have seen how the BJP has divided people for vote bank politics. And this time, the BJP is again polarising the State, fomenting unrest between Hindus and Muslims with an aim to push aside secular and caste-based political forces.
In that view, can secular and caste-based parties come together to fight the BJP?
Unfortunately, secular and caste parties are not realising the danger the BJP is posing to our society. They are all busy fighting each other. I don't foresee any alliance between us and them [in U.P.].
Poll strategist Prashant Kishor is also working to figure out how to increase the Congress's vote share in U.P.? How do you see his role?