Congress may project Priyanka Gandhi or Rahul Gandhi as its CM candidate for UP polls 2017

In the last Lok Sabha elections, Congress could win only in two places with party chief Sonia Gandhi and Rahul retaining their traditional Raebareli and Amethi seats.

Congress may project Priyanka Gandhi or Rahul Gandhi as its CM candidate for UP polls 2017

New Delhi: Poll strategist Prashant Kishor, who has been roped by the Congress leadership to bring back its golden days in Uttar Pradesh, is learnt be in favour of either Priyanka Gandhi or Rahul Gandhi taking lead in the 2017 state election.

If the two Gandhis don't agree, Kishor, who had managed the hugely successful election campaigns for Narendra Modi in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and Nitish Kumar-led grand alliance in the Bihar Assembly elections in 2015, might opt for a well-known Brahmin face to be projected as the chief ministerial candidate for the UP polls.

Congress, which once used to win almost all the seats in the cow belt state, has been performing very poorly in the last two decades. In the last Lok Sabha elections, the grand old party could win only in two places with party chief Sonia Gandhi and Rahul retaining their traditional Raebareli and Amethi seats.

Meanwhile, a PTI report said the party may carry out a massive rejig of its state leadership next fortnight and announce its chief ministerial candidate who in all likelihood will be a "Brahmin".

There are also views within a section of the party that a turnaround in Uttar Pradesh is possible only if either of the Gandhis - Priyanka or Rahul - takes the lead in the state polls.

However, there has been no indication from the party so far that it is inclined to field any of the two Gandhis in the assembly polls in the state where Congress is considered to be on a weak wicket.

Poll strategist Prashant Kishor is learnt to be in favour of either of the Gandhis taking the lead in the state election and, if they do not agree, a well-known Brahmin face should be projected as the chief ministerial candidate.

Sources close to the leadership indicated that key decisions about the rejig are likely to be announced after May 19, the day counting of votes for the assembly polls in Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Puducherry takes place.

The Pradesh Congress Committee Chief, the Congress Legislature Party Leader and even those managing the state affairs at the AICC level could be changed, the sources say.

There is a thinking in the party that since Brahmins, who constitute 10 to 12 percent of the electorate, are the only vote bloc Congress can hope to make inroads into, projection of a person from the community as chief ministerial face would help the party regain their support. With the advent of Mandal-Mandir politics, Brahmins, who had traditionally voted for Congress, shifted allegiance to the BJP.

Kishor, who is known for building his campaign strategy around strong personalities, is learnt to be keen that Congress should project a face in the state as it could galvanize the cadres.

Key players in the state - Samajwadi Party led by Mulayam Singh Yadav and Bahujan Samaj Party led by Mayawati - are personality driven and have their strong vote bases. Meanwhile, Congress, which has been out of power in the state for nearly-three decades, suffers from a leadership crisis.

Last week a report published in 'The Indian Express' said, while Rahul Gandhi was holding a 'Janata Durbar' for people of his Amethi constituency, some locals urged him to bring his sister Priyanka Gandhi into active politics.

The locals asked the Gandhi scion to bring Priyanka, which would help in reviving the party, before the crucial 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly Elections.

The Amethi MP was also advised to travel more in the Hindi heartland and declare candidates for UP polls in advance.