Lucknow : A huge gathering of Congress supporters marked by the presence of almost all significant leaders of the party connected to Uttar Pradesh marked the launching of Congress campaign for the 2017 Assembly election in the state on Sunday 17 July.

Although it was not officially declared as a campaign event, it was organized to mark the arrival of Sheila Dikshit and Raj Babbar to Lucknow after their anointment as party’s face for the 2017 election and as state president, respectively.

Workers and supporters of all senior state Congress leaders had gathered at the Lucknow airport to welcome the team arriving from Delhi, and the big enthusiastic crowd created a lot of noise and chaos at the airport. The state in-charge Ghulam Nabi Azad, however, did not come with this team but Dikshit, Babbar, and former Union ministers R P N Singh, Jitin Prasad were among the leaders who arrived from Delhi and after coming out of the airport building all of them boarded a bus on way to the UPCC office.

The route was marked by welcome banners, gates, arches, hoardings, cutouts, flags and posters. The leaders were seated atop the bus and waved to the slogan-shouting crowd.

In the recent-rejig of the Congress set-up for UP, almost all leaders of any consequence have been accommodated on different positions. While the Amethi leader Sanjay Singh has been made the president of campaign committee, old-timer Pramod Tewari is the new president of coordination committee.

Besides, several vice-presidents too have been named. Outgoing state president Nirmal Khatri has been given charge of state screening committee. The coordination committee also has members as former state president Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Mohsina Kidwai, Rajeev Shukla, Salman Khurshid, Shri Prakash Jaiswal, Saleem Sherwani, Pradeep Jain Aditya, Nirmal Khatri, PL Punia and Pradeep Mathur. Members of the campaign committee include Jitin Prasad, Vijendra Singh and Zafar Ali Naqvi.

All these leaders were present in the bus in an obvious attempt to show solidarity and give the message that the party was serious about its foray for 2017. At the UPCC office, Raj Babbar first took charge as president of the UPCC and later addressed a gathering of party workers with all other leaders in attendance. Later, a joint press conference was held in the UPCC media room where Babbar chose to answer all the questions whether they were posed to Dikshit or anyone else.

He said that the Congress was prepared to give a fight to all parties in UP and expressed confidence that the party will form the government in the state. “Our fight is not with one party but all the other three parties, and we will expose the misdeeds of all of them,” he said.

Babbar attacked the Samajwadi Party government over so-called “misrule” and the law and order situation. He did not spare either chief minister Akhilesh Yadav or senior minister Shivpal Yadav, but did not mention the name of party president Mulayam Singh Yadav. Babbar also attacked BJP president Amit Shah and the BJP for the party’s failure to fulfil its election promises. Babbar, Dikshit and other Delhi-based leaders returned to Delhi in the evening.

It is learnt that Dikshit will be touring western UP in the next week and will be coming to Lucknow before the end of July and will be staying here.

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