I am hurt, will meet Rahul Gandhi: Khabri - Hindustan Times

I am hurt, will meet Rahul Gandhi: Khabri

By, Lucknow
Aug 20, 2023 11:13 PM IST

Former Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee president Brijlal Khabri said he would like to know the circumstances that led to his ouster from the party post

Former Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC) president Brijlal Khabri on Sunday said he was “hurt” over his removal from the party post and will meet senior leader Rahul Gandhi over the issue once the latter returned to Delhi after his ongoing visit to Leh.

Congress leader Brijlal Khabri. (HT file)
Congress leader Brijlal Khabri. (HT file)

On August 17, the Congress appointed former MLA Ajay Rai as the new UPCC president replacing Khabri. “I am hurt but not angry in any manner” said Khabri, a Dalit leader who held the UPCC president’s office for barely 10 months.

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The Congress high command had appointed Khabri the UPCC president in October 2022 after the then UPCC president Ajay Kumar Lallu resigned from the post in March taking the moral responsibility of the party’s debacle in 2022 U.P. assembly polls.

“It is important to meet Rahul Gandhi and talk to him directly. Was he aware that I was being replaced? I would like to know the circumstances that led to my ouster while I was busy working hard for the party. I was sitting in my office doing work on August 17 when at around 6 pm I learnt that I was replaced,” Khabri, 62, said.

He, however, said he had no issue as such with the replacement. “That’s the party’s decision and it’s most welcome. I accept it,” he said.

Khabri, who began his political life as a student leader at his DVC college in Orai as Bahujan Chatra Morcha (a student wing of the BSP) during the time of Kanshi Ram subsequently joined the BSP in 1996 and exited the party in 2016. He was BSP MP (won Jaluan Lok Sabha seat in 1999) and then also a BSP Rajya Sabha member from 2008 to 2014.

“I had left the BSP due to ideological differences with the BSP chief Mayawati and joined the Congress. I am here in the Congress because my purpose is the same as Rahul Gandhi’s to save the Constitution and democracy. I will continue my work in Congress with the same zeal. Post hardly matters in such a mission,” he said.

When asked to specify reasons for his feeling hurt, he said: “I change a lot of things in the UPCC. Dalits and Muslims started turning towards the Congress. I carried out ‘Samvidhaan Bachao Sankalp Sabha’ from July 9 to August 13 and covered almost all the districts of the state. And such UP Congress meetings that barely attracted 100 people, started getting crowds of 10,000 comprising Dalits, Muslims and deprived people.

“I had also launched the party’s caste census campaign that was handled by Manoj Yadav and other OBC leaders of the Congress,” he added.

Khabri denied saying anything like the “Congress has replaced a person who represents 38% population (Dalits, Muslims, OBCs) by someone who represents a caste which is barely one per cent of the population”.

“I never said anything like this. Moreover, whosoever has reported this has done wrong math. Dalits, Muslims, OBCs together comprise at least 70% of the UP’s population,” he said.

When asked if he was removed because of the speculation that BSP chief Mayawati demanded that for her to join INDIA coalition of the Opposition first her old lieutenants be removed from the Congress, he said: “If the BSP and the Congress have to come together, only top leaders of these parties would know. How come a general public would get to know about this?”.

Newly appointed UPCC president Ajay Rai, 53, is considered a firebrand leader. He had contested the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha polls against PM Narendra Modi in Varanasi. Rai is a former MLA from Kolasla constituency (in Varanasi) which does not exist anymore.

He won the assembly elections from Kolasla constituency three times in a row between 1996 and 2007 on a BJP ticket. He joined the Congress in 2012. After the Kolasla constituency ceased to exist post-delimitation, he won the 2012 assembly elections from the newly created Pindra constituency.

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    Pankaj Jaiswal is Chief of Bureau, Uttar Pradesh and covers politics. His continued interest in rural, distress, and development journalism, fetched him a handful of prestigious awards and fellowships. Pankaj is a photo-journalist too and tweets at @augustus29lotus

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