Having pulled off the critical assignment of clawing back Karnataka, Congress general secretary Randeep Surjewala was given the additional charge of election-bound Madhya Pradesh on Thursday.
Madhya Pradesh is extremely important in the Congress scheme for the future. While the party is facing anti-incumbency in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, it hopes to snatch Madhya Pradesh from the BJP, which has been in power there for four terms and is grappling with the fatigue factor.
A victory in the Hindi heartland will substantially bolster the Congress's chances for the 2024 parliamentary election.
Surjewala’s stature has been rising in the Congress after a mature handling of Karnataka. Madhya Pradesh was being looked after by J.P. Agarwal so far. Surjewala’s personal rapport with Rahul Gandhi and Mallikarjun Kharge will ensure a high-pitch campaign in the state. Gujarat, which was being handled by former Rajasthan minister Raghu Sharma, has now been given to the senior-most general secretary Mukul Wasnik.
In another significant development, Brijlal Khabri was removed as Uttar Pradesh Congress chief. Veteran Ajai Rai has been given the reins of the important state ahead of the parliamentary election. Khabri’s abrupt removal signals a failure of a strategy to target Dalit votes in the key state. Sources reveal that Khabri, who came from the BSP, failed to grasp the Congress culture, compelling the party to fall back on Rai.
The choice of Rai, who is an upper caste, may have signalled the Congress's readiness for an alliance with the Samajwadi Party which is part of the INDIA combine. The Congress will be expected to focus on the upper caste vote while the Samajwadi Party will take care of the rest. Though Priyanka Gandhi Vadra still remains the general secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh, she is spending more time elsewhere, indicating that the state will get a new in-charge soon.