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Rahul Gandhi says Congress to go it alone in UP, defends Sheila Dikshit

Rahul Gandhi says Congress to go it alone in UP, defends Sheila Dikshit

Lucknow: Rahul Gandhi on Friday said Congress will go it alone in the 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly election and will form an “alliance only with the people of the state”.

“We are contesting the election to get complete majority in the Assembly and have our own chief minister…You know what has happened in the last 27 years when different parties have only divided the state,” the Congress Vice President said during an interactive session with party workers here.

Replying to a query from one of the workers who sought an assurance that the party will not go for a pre-poll tie-up with any other outfit as it had only harmed it in the past, Rahul said, “We will have an alliance (only) with the Congress workers and every citizen of the state.

“It is a fight of ideologies…We have to help Uttar Pradesh get its rightful place…While Congress brings all together, other parties divide them,” he said, adding that the party will work out a strategy for the UP election to “wipe away the anger in the mind of people against each other”.

Rahul said the party wants to give more representation to women and youth when it comes to allotment of tickets for the state polls.

Rahul Gandhi also defended anointment of Sheila Dikshit as party’s chief ministerial face on the ground of her “experience” and gave a lesson on discipline to party workers.

A day after lobbing “Arhar Modi” jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over spiralling prices, Rahul in a first of its kind interaction with party’s district, block and booth level workers on a ramp, responded to their random questions, an idea mooted by poll strategist Prashant Kishor.

On being asked whether Dikshit was fit to be Congress’ CM candidate because of her advanced age, Rahul remarked that people in Delhi were now appreciating her as she had changed the face of the national capital.

“People say though the earlier (government) used to work, now it is mere drama going on…MLAs are going to jail…Thinking is more important than age…Though youth is essential for energy, experience is also necessary,” he said in a bid to silence the criticism over Dikshit’s candidature.

Rahul said, “Various parties have come to power in UP during the last 27 years. Some made people fight on Hindu-Muslim lines, some others … but none talked about the state’s development. There was a time when UP was in the forefront. It will once again take the number one slot.”

Replying to a question on groupism in the party and how he will check it, Rahul was quick to say it can be overcome through discipline.

“We have given a team to UP and set a target that the party has to be taken to the number one spot…There is a consensus on what path has to be taken for it…Stern action will be take against whosoever works against it,” he said.

To a question on critics within the party, Rahul said Congress was also an ideology, representing the ethos of the country, that was not just existing in UP but also in the entire nation and cannot be wiped out.

“Those (Congress) leaders who sit in AC offices in Delhi defame party and its workers…leave them to me, I will take care of them,” he said.

Moving freely up to the workers who braved a heavy downpour before his arrival, Rahul told them that Congress will encourage dedicated workers and they will get priority in ticket allocation for the coming polls.