War of Nerves: What Priyanka’s Meeting With Bhim Army Chief Means
Left out of the famed SP-BSP-RLD mahagathbandhan, the Congress has found itself in a precarious position in UP.
With Lok Sabha elections 2019 looming large, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi's meeting with Bhim Army Chief Chandra Shekhar Aazad at a hospital in Meerut on Wednesday, 13 March, came loaded with political messaging, even though she denied any politics at play.
Left out of the crucial SP-BSP-RLD mahagathbandhan, the grand old party has found itself in a precarious position in Uttar Pradesh, the state which sends the maximum number of MPs to the Lok Sabha . In fact, just a day earlier, BSP supremo Mayawati had snubbed them once again saying her party will not have an election tie-up with the Congress in any state.
It was in this context that the Congress general secretary for UP east met with the Bhim Army chief, who commands a good resonance with a large Dalit vote bank in the Western Uttar Pradesh region.
In the Western part of the state, the Congress party's cadre is considered to be the weakest, and the Congress general secretary's 'courtesy-call' on Aazad may just be an attempt to consolidate support in the region, with the underlying message being, ‘Whoever is anti-Modi would be the Congress' friend’.
In contrast, with RLD being part of the alliance, the mahagathbandhan seems well-poised in the western part of the state.
Moreover, in choosing to call on the 30-year-old lawyer, Priyanka Gandhi also reiterates her focus on the youth in the run-up to the elections, with an attempt to tap into as many young voters as possible in a young state.
The meeting is part of the “pressure tactics” at play in the “war of nerves” going on between the Congress and the BSP in the state, says senior journalist Arati Jerath.
Jerath said the meeting is indicative of Priyanka Gandhi "snubbing" Mayawati and seeking support from Aazad and his grouping for its candidates in the region.
‘Like His Energy’: Priyanka Gandhi After the Meet
Notably, Gandhi had met the Bhim Army chief a day after the latter was taken to a hospital by the police following an hour-long standoff. She was accompanied by Jyotiraditya Scindia, the general secretary for UP West, and party leader Raj Babbar at the hospital.
Speaking to the media after the meeting, Priyanka Gandhi reportedly denied any politics at play in the meeting, saying it was a gesture of showing solidarity.
“He is a young man who is struggling and raising his voice, but this government is trying to suppress his voice. I am here because I like his energy and the way he raises (his) voice for the youth.”Priyanka Gandhi
Meanwhile, the Bhim Army chief told NDTV after the meeting that he would go to Varanasi to contest the election against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“We don’t want the support of any political party. I will go to Varanasi to fight elections against PM Modi. I don’t care who supports me... Mayawati and Akhilesh should support us.”Chandra Shekhar Aazad to NDTV
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