Babbar is UP Cong chief; No clarity on Priyanka’s role

RSTV Bureau
Congress member Raj Babbar has moved the calling attention motion on the issue of levy of 1% excise duty on jewellers.

File photo of Congress leader Raj Babbar. Photo-PTI

The Congress has finally named its party chief for Uttar Pradesh ahead of the Assembly polls scheduled to take place early next year. Actor-turned-politician Raj Babbar was appointed as president of Uttar Pradesh Congress on Tuesday evening.

However, the party stayed mum on what exactly Priyanka Vadra’s role will be in the campaign leading up to the polls.

“Congress President Sonia Gandhi has appointed Raj Babbar as new president of Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee, along with four senior vice presidents,” Congress general secretary Janardhana Dwivedi said at a press conference at the Congress headquarters in Delhi.

The four senior vice presidents that have been named in the state are Rajaram Pal, Rajesh Mishra, Bhagwati Prasad Chaudhary and Imran Masood.

Babbar who was born in Tundla near Agra in UP, belongs to the Viswabrahmin community which falls under OBC category. Babbar has been a three-time Lok Sabha member but is presently a Rajya Sabha member from Uttarakhand.

Babbar has replaced Nirmal Khatri as the UP Congress party president. Khatri has now been made the chairman of the state screening committee.

Even as these announcements were made, the party stayed mum on what exactly Priyanka Vadra’s role will be in the run up to the UP polls.

“..Everyone associated with Congress party has a role. She (Priyanka) already has a role and it will continue like that,” said Ghulam Nabi Azad when asked about Priyanka’s role.

New Delhi: Priyanka Gandhi with Congress leaders arrives at Patiala House Courts where Congress President Sonia Gandhi and party Vice President Rahul Gandhi appeared in National Herald Case in New Delhi on Saturday, December 19, 2015. Photo - PTI

File photo of Priyanka Vadra. Photo – PTI

Speculations were rife when Azad met Priyanka on Tuesday morning. Reports suggested that Priyanka may assume a bigger role for the Congress and may be its top campaigner in UP.

Azad, however admitted that there have been demands from party members from the state demanding that Priyanka should campaign for the party beyond Rae Bareli and Amethi.

Earlier, Priyanka campaigned only for the two constituencies represented by her mother and Congress President Sonia Gandhi and brother and party Vice President Rahul Gandhi.

Congress, which was once a dominant party in UP, has remained out of power in the state since long, losing out to the caste politics of Samajwadi Party and BSP.

The new UP President, Babbar entered politics when he joined the Janata Dal in 1989. He later switched to Samajwadi Party from which he was suspended in 2006.

In 2008, the actor-turned politician joined Congress. He was elected to the Lok Sabha in 2009 by defeating Dimple Yadav, wife of UP CM Akhilesh Yadav from Firozabad constituency in Uttar Pradesh. In 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Babbar was defeated in Ghaziabad constituency by former Army chief Gen VK Singh.

Among the newly appointed vice presidents in UP, Masood had courted controversy a few years ago with his hate speech against BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi in 2014.

The others, Rajaram Pal belongs to the backward caste leader, Rajesh Mishra is a Brahmin from Varanasi and Bhagwati Prasad Chaudhari is a Dalit leader.

(With inputs from PTI)