Lucknow: As the 2024 parliamentary elections draw near, the Congress has undergone a change in leadership for the state of Uttar Pradesh. Ajai Rai, a former minister and legislator, has been appointed as the new President of UP Congress. Rai gained prominence by challenging Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Varanasi constituency as the Congress candidate in both the 2014 and 2019 general elections.
The decision to replace the outgoing President Brij Lal Khabri in UP with Ajai Rai was made by the Congress high command on Thursday. In a letter, KC Venugopal, the National General Secretary of the All India Congress Committee (AICC), acknowledged the services of the departing President Khabri and introduced Ajai Rai as the new President of UP Congress.
Ajai Rai's Political Journey
Ajai Rai was associated with the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) and the Samajwadi Party before joining the Congress in 2012. He contested the 2017 and 2022 assembly polls from the Pindra seat in Varanasi as a Congress candidate. Despite originating from a well-established Congress family in Varanasi, Rai initiated his political career with the BJP in 1996 and remained with the party until 2009.
Notably, his younger brother Awadhesh Rai was a prominent Congress leader in eastern UP, while his uncle Sri Narain Rai served as the district president of Varanasi Congress in 1969-70. After disagreements with BJP leaders, Ajai Rai joined the Samajwadi Party in 2009, but later shifted his allegiance to the Congress.
Before assuming his current position, Congress had appointed Ajai Rai as the zonal party president last year for the eastern zone. He was responsible for overseeing organizational affairs in 16 districts of eastern UP. Known for his close association with the Gandhi family, Ajai Rai hails from the Bhumihar Brahmin community, which is predominantly located in the eastern part of UP.