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Sheila Dikshit is Congress' UP chief minister candidate, UP assembly polls 2017, UP polls, Congress , Congress CM Candidate

Sheila Dikshit is Congress' UP chief minister candidate, UP assembly polls 2017, UP polls, Congress, Congress CM Candidate

The announcement of Dikshit’s name is significant because the Congress is focusing on Uttar Pradesh to revive its fortunes in north India. “Whether you call it the chief ministerial candidate or party’s face of the campaign, it will be Sheila Dikshit in Uttar Pradesh,” Janardan Dwivedi, Congress general secretary, told reporters on Thursday.

The development comes two days after the Congress named actor-turned-politician Raj Babbar as chief of the party’s unit in Uttar Pradesh.

The party faces the tough task of rebuilding its organizational network in the state, having won only 28 seats in the 2012 assembly polls and managing a vote share of just 13.2%.

In the 2014 general election, it won just two seats—those of party chief Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi.

Dikshit said the prospect of leading the party in Uttar Pradesh was “exciting” and she was looking forward to the challenge. “Every challenge is different. Uttar Pradesh is a much bigger state than Delhi, but we will stay strong and the aim will be to win elections,” she told reporters after the announcement.

Pitch for Priyanka

When the party also named members of its campaign and coordination committees for U.P., Ms. Dikshit made a pitch again for Priyanka to campaign outside the family bastions of Amethi and Rae Bareli.

‘A major challenge’

Admitting that U.P. will pose a “major challenge”, she said the Congress would go to the polls with confidence, taking on the BJP, the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party equally. Ms Dikshit’s statement indicated that the Congress had given up trying to have an electoral arrangement with the BSP.

Clearly, age is not a factor, as Ms. Dikshit is 76: she will be up against U.P. Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav (43) and BSP supremo Mayawati (60) — the BJP has not yet named a CM candidate.

Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh are due in early 2017.

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