By Amit Verma
The Bharat Jodo Yatra (BJY) of the Congress in Uttar Pradesh has failed to work as an adhesive.
The BJY, in fact, has further fragmented the beleaguered party in UP.
The BJY travelled through western UP briefly for three days and though it drew large crowds, it served to intensify infighting within the party.
To begin with, the majority of the senior party leaders were not invited to join the yatra. These leaders were mainly Rahul Gandhi loyalists and were allegedly kept away on the instructions of Priyanka Gandhi's team that now manages the party in UP.
Former Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC) president Raj Babbar was not allowed to join the BJY in UP. He later joined the yatra and met Rahul Gandhi in Haryana.
Similarly, former UPCC president Nirmal Khatri was nowhere to be see during the UP leg of the yatra.
A former MP said, "Nothing could be more shameful than the fact that a group of so-called leaders deliberately kept us away from the yatra. This explains why none of the veteran leaders were seen during the yatra in the state. The present UPCC president Brij Lal Khabri does not even know the who's who of the Congress here and did not even seem concerned about the presence, rather absence, of senior leaders in the yatra."
A large number of party leaders who have been expelled from the Congress after 2019 when Priyanka Gandhi took charge, went to Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir where they not only joined the yatra but even met Rahul Gandhi and spoke to him.
"Other state leaders were gracious enough to let us join the yatra when we told them that we had been shunned by our own state," said one of the expelled leaders.
The Congress in Uttar Pradesh has been dumped for all practical purposes by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.
Priyanka has not visited Uttar Pradesh, barring one visit for five hours, since the party recorded its worst ever performance in the 2022 assembly elections.
The UPCC office now presents a completely deserted and forsaken look and this had helped Priyanka's coterie tighten its grip on party affairs.
"Even the new Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge does not seem too worried about Uttar Pradesh - or maybe he does not want to. The Congress leadership does not realize that Uttar Pradesh with 80 Lok Sabha seats, is the only route to revival. The saddest part is that no leader is willing to listen to our grievances," said a former UPCC chief.
A former party legislator said that there was no question of any further splits in the Congress because most of the leaders had already left.
"Those that remain are sitting at home and it is only half a dozen members of the coterie who are waiting to strike it rich when the Lok Sabha tickets are put up for 'sale'," he said.