The Congress party on Thursday released the first list of candidates for the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, which will begin on February 10. The party has given substantial representation to women in the upcoming elections, general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said.
“Out of the total 125 candidates, 40 per cent are women and 40 per cent are youth. With this historic initiative, we hope to bring in a new kind of politics in the state,” she said at a virtual meeting.
There are 50 women candidates in the list, including the mother of the Unnao rape victim, said Vadra. “From Shahjahanpur, we have fielded Asha worker, Poonam Pandey who led an agitation for a raise in honorarium,” she added.
In the past few months, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra announced several women-centric promises including smartphones to Class 12 pass girls, electric scooters to graduating women, and skill development schools for women.
Vadra, who has been leading the Congress’ charge in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, also released the party’s manifesto last month.
Congress has divided the manifesto into six sections: self-respect, self-reliance, education, empowerment, security and health.
The Congress party has been out of power in Uttar Pradesh for nearly three decades and Vadra has been desperately trying to change that. However, the task looks nearly impossible, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) deploying all its resources and challengers Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leaving no stone unturned.
After making the populist announcements, Congress also started direct interactions with women, bringing women’s issues into political focus. It has also made “Ladki hoon lad sakti hoon (I am a girl, I can fight)” a war cry for the upcoming polls after not being left with any strong base in the politics of caste and community. It also organised a few women’s marathon races under the “Ladki hoon lad Sakti hoon” campaign but suspended the campaign due to the rising number of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases.
Priyanka Gandhi has held numerous meetings of the coordination, election and campaign committees to understand the party’s position on the ground and strengthen its base.
Elections for the 403 assembly constituencies in Uttar Pradesh will be held in seven phases – on February 10, 14, 20, 23, 27 and March 3 and 7. The counting of votes will be done on March 10.
Previously, in the 2017 UP elections, the BJP bagged 312 seats while the SP bagged 47 seats, BSP won 19 and Congress could win only seven seats. The rest of the seats were bagged by other candidates. Congress had contested the 2017 polls in alliance with the SP.