Denied ticket, Gulabi gang founder quits Congress

LUCKNOW A day after the Congress released its first list of 150 candidates, including 50 women for the UP Assembly elections symbolizing efforts for women empowerment, a section of party leaders questioned the party’s ticket distribution process.

Those who raised their voice included Sampat Pal Devi, founder of Gulabi Gang, which derived its name from its pink (gulabi) saree clad members. The gang is known for vigilante justice against those accused of “committing atrocities on women.”

“I am resigning from the Congress as my candidature for Manikpur seat in Banda has not been considered. Women who secured lesser votes than me have been fielded from the same seat though I have worked harder over the years to strengthen the Congress. My Gulabi Gang members have supported the Congress not only in Uttar Pradesh but also in other states,” said Sampat Pal Devi while speaking to Hindustan Times on phone.

Sampat Pal Devi’s resignation came when the Congress has fulfilled its promise of 40% tickets to women, taking the issue of women empowerment to the centrestage of politics. Those known for raising their voice against any injustice to women have been given party tickets.

Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC) president Ajay Kumar ‘Lallu’ was not reachable for comments on the first list of Congress tickets that party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra released on Thursday.

Meanwhile, a party leader Sheela Mishra staged a dharna at UPCC headquarters for some time on Friday to lodge her protest against the Congress’ decision to deny her a ticket from an assembly seat of Lucknow. “Sheela Mishra sat on dharna for some time at UPCC headquarters,” said a party functionary.

Another party leader Priyanka Maurya, whose picture has been used on the Congress’ ‘Ladki Hoon, Lad Sakti Hoon’ (I am a girl, I can fight) campaign posters accused the party of “irregularities in the ticket distribution.”

According to party leaders, she was a contender for a Congress ticket from Sarojini Nagar assembly seat of Lucknow. Priyanka Maurya accused a party functionary of asking her to pay money for a ticket and even called the Congress “anti-women and anti-OBC.”

“The Congress list is a good gesture for women and every political party should follow the same instead of waiting for enactment of a law. Any resentment against ticket distribution on some seats is routine and an internal matter of the political party,” said Professor SK Dwivedi, former head of department, political science, Lucknow University.

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