The Congress has started a 'Haath Se Haath Jodo' campaign in Uttar Pradesh, as a follow-up to its 'Bharat Jodo Yatra', to reach out to people in the hinterlands ahead of the 2024 general elections. This state-level campaign, party leaders said, will strengthen the Congress' prospects and act as an extension of the Kanyakumari to Kashmir 'Bharat Jodo Yatra' that passed through the politically crucial state earlier this month.
Uttar Pradesh sends 80 members to the 542-member Lok Sabha.
The 'Bharat Jodo Yatra' is currently in its final lap in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, with Rahul Gandhi hoisting the national flag at Lal Chowk in the city on Sunday.
AICC national general secretary and in-charge of Uttar Pradesh Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is likely to visit the state in February for the programme, party leaders said.
The 'Haath Se Haath Jodo' campaign is aimed at apprising people at the grassroots level of the failures of the central government, they said.
Armed with a letter from Rahul Gandhi sharing his experiences during the 'Bharat Jodo Yatra', Congress leaders and workers aim to fan out across the state up to the tehsil, block, and village levels in order to connect with people during the next two months.
"The aim of the campaign is to apprise the people of the kind of hatred which is seen in society and the prevailing situation in Uttar Pradesh. We have presented certain facts in a 'charge sheet' against the government on issues such as farmer suicides, betrayal of the youth, and how their dreams were shattered by the central and the state governments," Congress spokesperson Ashok Singh told PTI.
In-charges of all the 849 blocks in the state have been finalised for the campaign. Congress leaders, office bearers, and workers will go from village to village and communicate with the public, he said.
"Now we will go to the people on the issues of public welfare through the 'Haath Se Haath Jodo Yatra' with senior party leaders, including former MPs, MLAs, and MLCs as well as regional presidents and the UPCC president," Mr Singh said.
The anti-people policies of the BJP government at the Centre and in Uttar Pradesh will be discussed by organising 'chaupal' and 'sabha' in the villages, he added.
Deepender Hooda, Rajya Sabha MP from Haryana and in-charge for this campaign in Uttar Pradesh, will come to Lucknow in a couple of days, Mr Singh said.
According to the Congress' West Uttar Pradesh unit chief Naseemuddin Siddiqui, all provincial presidents of the party have held discussions on ways to make the programme successful.
He said that in the 75 districts of Uttar Pradesh, current and former ministers, MPs, and MLAs have been given the responsibilities of district coordinators.
Rahul Gandhi's letter, which will be handed over to the people, recounts the "sweet and sour" experiences of the former Congress chief during his journey from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, besides flagging issues of unemployment, inflation, and atrocities carried out by the BJP government in the country and the state, party leaders said.
"Haath Se Haath Jodo Yatra is an extension of 'Bharat Jodo Yatra' for reaching up to the block level, where every household will be visited and Mr Gandhi's letter will be handed over. There will also be a vehicle with a screen to display the main points of Rahul Gandhi's yatra," the Congress had told PTI.
Priyanka Gandhi is likely to visit the state sometime during these two months, Mr Siddiqui said, adding that other senior leaders will also be roped in to visit different parts of Uttar Pradesh.
He further said that discussions will be held with the public by setting up chaupals in every village. "If anyone feels that the government has done injustice to women, then there is an open offer for them. Priyanka Gandhi will fight for them and get them their rights," he added.
Mr Siddiqui said the target is to take Rahul Gandhi's 'Bharat Jodo Yatra' message from the state headquarters to the block level.
Crossing over to Uttar Pradesh from Delhi, Rahul Gandhi had travelled to Ghaziabad, Baghpat, and Shamli before entering Haryana.
Main opposition Samajwadi Party's ally, the RLD, had joined the yatra in Baghpat.
Samajwadi Party supremo Akhilesh Yadav and BSP chief Mayawati had greeted the yatra, but did not participate in it.
Shrinking to two seats from its earlier tally of nine in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, the task is cut out for the grand old party in the crucial general election next year.
In the 2019 general election, the Congress could hold its sway only in the Rae Bareli seat of Sonia Gandhi. Even Rahul Gandhi lost from the family's traditional Amethi seat.
With its stock continuing to go downhill in the most populous state, the Congress failed to find any partner in the opposition camp and had to go it alone in the 2022 assembly election.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)