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Rahul Gandhi first choice for CM post in Uttar Pradesh: Congress

Struggling to arrest its falling fortunes in electorally important Uttar Pradesh, Congress may carry out a massive rejig of its state leadership next fortnight and announce its chief ministerial candidate who in all likelihood will be a “Brahmin”, however sources said that there will be surprise and Congress may declare its Vice President Rahul Gandhi as a CM candidate as suggested by strategist Prashant Kishor.

Rahul Gandhi-AV

Poll strategist Prashant Kishor is learnt to be in favour of either of the Gandhis taking the lead in the state election and, if they do not agree, a well-known Brahmin face should be projected as the chief ministerial candidate.

Sources close to the leadership indicated that key decisions about the rejig are likely to be announced after May 19, the day counting of votes for the assembly polls in Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Puducherry takes place.

The party tally has remained in the 20s in recent assembly elections, which is a measly portion of the 403-strong UP Assembly. “It’s either 20 or 200,” Kishor is learnt to have told top Congressmen in UP during his deliberations with them over the past few days. He is of the firm view that if neither of the Gandhi family scions throw their proverbial hat in the ring, the party will continue to remain in the 20s bracket. But if it does take the decisive step, the party could form the government in UP with 200-plus seats.

However, if Rahul does not agree to the proposal, Priyanka Gandhi may be made the party’s face in Uttar Pradesh. In case both disagree, the Kishor will be suggesting the name of former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit.

There is a thinking in the party that since Brahmins, who constitute 10 to 12 per cent of the electorate, are the only vote bloc Congress can hope to make inroads into, projection of a person from the community as chief ministerial face would help the party regain their support. With the advent of mandal-mandir politics, Brahmins, who had traditionally voted for Congress, shifted allegiance to the BJP.

There has also been a buzz that the Congress could field its top guns in the assembly polls, including some of its MPs, especially those who had been Union ministers in UPA I and II governments.

Kishor, who is known for building his campaign strategy around strong personalities, is learnt to be keen that Congress should project a face in the state as it could galvanize the cadres.

Key pladers in the state — Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party led by Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati — are personality driven and have their strong vote bases, while Congress, which has been out of power in the state for nearly-three decades, suffers from a leadership crisis.

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