Congress leader Ajay Kumar Lallu has replaced actor-turned-politician Raj Babbar as the Uttar Pradesh unit chief, months after the party slumped to its worst Lok Sabha polls performance in the state. Mr Babbar, a former MP, had offered to resign in May, owning responsibility for the party's debacle in the state which sends most number of MPs in parliament.
In his first reaction after being appointed, Ajay Kumar Lallu said his prime priority would be to change people's perception of the party by taking up issues concerning the common man. "It would be my first priority to change people''s perception of the party for which issues related to people will be raised in an effective manner both inside the Assembly as well as on the roads," he was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
The Congress was reduced to a single seat in 80-seat Uttar Pradesh despite an intense campaign by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Rahul Gandhi's sister and general secretary tasked with the campaign in UP along with Jyotiraditya Scindia. The only seat the party kept was Sonia Gandhi's Raebareli.
Ajay Kumar Lallu, a two-time MLA, represents the Tamkuhi Raj constituency in the Uttar Pradesh assembly.
The party leadership has drastically cut down the size of the Uttar Pradesh Congress committee from over 500 leaders to 40-45 people. Preference has been given to young leaders.
An 18-member advisory council comprising seasoned politicians -- including Salman Khurshid, PL Punia, Pramod Tiwari and RPN Singh-- has been formed to revive the Congress in Uttar Pradesh in view of the 2022 assembly polls. The group will be led by Priyanka Gandhi.
An eight strong working group on strategy and planning has also been formed, the party said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Aradhana Misra, the Rampur Khas MLA, has been appointed as the leader of the Uttar Pradesh Congress Legislative Party.
The Congress won 52 seats across the country in the national election, while the BJP scored a landslide win second time in a row.
The party also lost Amethi, the Lok Sabha constituency of Rahul Gandhi, who had resigned taking responsibility for the party's poor show.