Voices of dissent have started emerging in the Uttar Pradesh Congress over the selection of candidates for the upcoming by-elections and also the possibility of Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Ajay Kumar Lallu being appointed as the state Congress Committee (UPCC) chief.
The Hamirpur Assembly bypoll is scheduled on September 23, while the date of by-elections to the remaining 12 seats is yet to be announced. With the bypolls for the 13 Assembly seats inching closer, resentment in the party's state unit is growing over its handling of the upcoming bypolls and the selection of candidates.
Acharya Pramod Krishnam, who contested the Lok Sabha elections from Lucknow on a Congress ticket, hit out at the party leadership for not discussing the candidates with him. "The candidate for Lucknow Cantonment seat was taken without any consultation with me. I will write to AICC General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi about it," he said.
The Lucknow Cantonment Assembly seat was vacated by Rita Bahuguna Joshi after she won the Lok Sabha election, prompting a by-election to the constituency.
"The Congress candidate from Lucknow Cantonment, Dilpreet Singh, has started campaigning, but many leaders are unhappy with his selection and have written to Sonia Gandhi about it," said a senior Congress leader.
An in-charge has been appointed in every constituency going for the Assembly bypoll.
Senior Congress leader and former MP Rajesh Mishra is in-charge of the Lucknow Cantt seat, but Dilpreet Singh did not even figure in Mishra's list of candidates for the Lucknow Cantt Assembly seat that was sent to the party high command.
The Congress has declared candidates for 11 seats -- Umesh Kumar Diwakar (Iglas SC), Snehlata (Tundla SC), Karishma Thakur (Govindnagar), Sunil Mishra (Jalalpur), Raj Mangal Yadav (Ghosi), Nauman Masood (Gangoh), Dilpreet Singh (Lucknow Cantonment), Ranjana Pandey (Manikpur), Neeraj Tripathi (Pratapgarh), Tanuj Punia (Zaidpur) and Hardeepak Nishad (Hamirpur). Nishad's candidature was announced long back and he has already filed his nomination.
There is also resentment in the party over reports that CLP leader Ajay Kumar Lallu may replace Raj Babbar as UPCC president.
Raj Babbar had resigned from his post in May after the Lok Sabha elections, taking moral responsibility for the party's debacle in UP.
Two days ago, former state Youth Congress president Tarun Patel told a meeting, "If the party high command appoints any 'lallu-panju' as state president, the party will also become a 'lallu-panju'.
"Lallu' is the suffix that Ajay Kumar uses in his name and 'lallu-panju' in local parlance refers to one who is stupid and useless.
A Congress legislator also said that if Ajay Kumar Lallu is made UPCC president, a split in the Congress cannot be ruled out.
Ajay Kumar Lallu is said to the choice of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and has been seen accompanying her on her UP tours, including to Sonebhadra.