Cong ‘new avatar’! 70% fresh faces in UP polls

| | Lucknow
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Cong ‘new avatar’! 70% fresh faces in UP polls

Sunday, 23 January 2022 | PTI | Lucknow

Making a conscious effort to shun the old baggage and present her party in a “new avatar” in Uttar Pradesh, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has hand-picked over 70 per cent new faces among the total 166 candidates for the high-stakes State Assembly election.

Besides sticking to her promise of 40 per cent women candidates, Priyanka has overwhelmingly given a chance to debutants with an aim to build a new leadership in the Hindi heartland, which had slipped from the party hands in recent years.

Of the total 166 names declared so far by the Congress, 119 candidates will be making their electoral debut, party spokesman Anshu Awasthi told PTI. With the candidature of Sangeeta Tyagi, wife of party leader late Rajiv Tyagi, from Sahibabad seat, Priyanka has made an earnest effort to break the mould and create new leadership in the century-old party which has faded into political oblivion.

 “Priyanka Gandhi has made an attempt to bring all those fighting on people’s issues, be it regarding women, youth, farmers, backwards or dalits, to the forefront,” Awasthi said.      

 He said the list of candidates gives a clear vision of the party’s effort to give a new direction to the state politics which has been suffering from caste and religion-based politics for years.

 “Party tickets have been given to youth and those who are working strongly in their respective fields,” the Congress spokesman said, adding that in the first list of 125 names, 26 candidates are those who are up to 35 years of age.

He said 55-year-old Asha Singh, mother of the Unnao rape victim; anti-CAA activist and party spokesperson Sadaf Jafar; ASHA worker and activist Poonam Pandey who fought for the rights of ASHA workers and was attacked at Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s programme at Shahjahanpur; Ram Raj Gond who fought for the rights of Adivasis in Sonbhadra; are all making their debut this election.

Similarly, Bhawana Valmiki, social activist from Hapur;  Yasmin Rana from Charthawal; Salma Agha Ansari from Thakurdwara; Kalpana Singh from Bilari; Nafees Saifi from Meerut South; Sukhvinder Kaur from Saharanpur are among those who will be contesting for the first time.

Other women candidates in the Congress list are Ritu Singh from Mohammadi in Lakhimpur Kheri who was manhandled during the recent panchayat elections; Poonam Pandit from Syana who was an international shooter before working as a bouncer to Haryanvi dancer Sapna Chaudhari and later got associated with the farmers agitation.

Archana Gautam, who won Miss bikini 2018 and worked in south Indian films, from Hastinapur; and Avanish Kajala from Meerut Cant are also in this list. Kajala is also the district unit president of the party.

 The Congress had released the first list of 125 names on January 13 and the second list of 41 names on January 20. Another party leader said fielding new faces will not only infuse fresh energy into the party, but also help tide over internal bickering which had been plaguing the organisation since long.

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