The internecine conflict within Uttar Pradesh Congress has come out in open as the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee(UPCC) on Sunday ousted 11 veteran leaders including former ministers. One of the expelled leaders, Ram Krishna Dwivedi, 87, once a trusted aide of former Indian PM Indira Gandhi, was unceremoniously suspended from the party for 6 years.
Reports say that the veterans have been expelled from the part under Priyanka Gandhi’s orders.
The expelled leaders have been accused of publicly lambasting the top leadership for its decisions concerning the overhaul of the UPCC, holding separate meetings and unilaterally interacting with media to tarnish the party’s image.
A statement issued by the Congress party announcing the expulsion of 11 leaders said that the concerned personalities indulged in anti-party activities, convening independent meetings and opposing the decisions taken by the party leadership.
The leaders who were expelled included Santosh Singh (former MP), Siraj Mehndi (former MLC), Ramakrishna Dwivedi (former home minister, UP), Satyadev Tripathi (former minister), Rajendra Singh Solanki (member AICC), Bhudhar Narayan Mishra (former MLA), Hafiz Mohammad Omar (former MLA), Vinod Chaudhary (former MLA), Nekchandra Pandey (former MLA), Swayam Prakash Goswami (former Speaker, Youth Congress), and Sanjeev Singh (former Congress district President Gorakhpur).
The leaders were earlier issued a notice by the UPCC over ‘indiscipline’. According to the sources, senior Congress leaders were upset with Priyanka Gandhi’s decision to replace old guards with young faces in the state organisation. Some veteran leaders have also objected to the appointment of Ajay Lallu as the state Congress chief.
Addressing a press conference, the senior leaders lamented that they are being sidelined while efforts are being made to sabotage the party’s organisation in UP. Former minister Ramkirshna Dwivedi said, “As per the party’s constitution, our suspension for 6 years is unlawful and condemning. We are AICC members and any decision regarding expelling us can only be taken by the central disciplinary committee. Priyanka is our leader but she even cannot order the UPCC for any action against us.”
Once amongst the most trusted men of Indira Gandhi when she served as Prime Minister, Dwivedi had pulled off a surprising victory by defeating the chief minister in a byelection in 1971. Against formidable odds, Dwivedi had scored an unlikely win against Tribhuvan Narain Singh in a byelection from Maniram Assembly constituency in Gorakhpur.
On the allegations that the senior Congress leaders are meeting separately and undermining the party, Dwivedi reasoned that the only reason they met separately because they were being ignored by the current crop of party leadership appointed by Priyanka Gandhi.
“We paid separate tributes to Jawaharlal Nehru on his birth anniversary in the Gomti Nagar area. The party had organised an event at the state headquarters. We met independently to discuss the strategy to strengthen the party because we were being ignored at the party office. We are not rebels but now it is obvious that some leaders want to sabotage the organisation for their personal interests. We have not received any notice to reply within 24 hours as claimed by the UPCC in a statement” said Dwivedi.
Other expelled leaders too expressed their discontent with the party’s decision to oust veterans. Bhudhar Narayan Mishra said that there is a prevailing feeling among senior leaders in the party that they are being ignored by the new leadership and it is reflective in their abysmal participation in UPCC meetings.
Another expelled leader Santosh Singh rubbished the rumours of insecurity among senior leaders due to the inclusion of youth leaders in the organisation. The leaders have demanded immediate intervention from the interim Congress president Sonia Gandhi.