Like Sleeping Beauty, the Congress Party has a habit of yawning, and then falling asleep as if for a hundred years.

That Congress workers met yesterday to protest against inflation was a pleasant surprise. Former Congress MP Pramod Tiwari, along with daughter Aradhana Misra was spotted on the street. MLA Virendra Chaudhary and former minister Naseemuddin Siddiqui had marched from the state party headquarters. The protestors were stopped on the way to the governor’s house by barricades and policemen.

The police lathi-charged all those who wanted to submit a memorandum to the governor regarding inflation. Some Congress workers were detained by the police for a while. The crowd of almost 400 people, including students, was inspired to see leaders like Tiwari in their midst.

Aradhana Misra and Virendra Chaudhary are the only two winners in the recently concluded Assembly elections out of the 100 candidates fielded by the Congress. Tiwari is a nine time winner from Rampur Khas, a constituency now held by his daughter Aradhana Misra.

Unemployment figures are up while there is no increase in incomes. The rising price of food and petrol is of concern to people but not a priority of the media or of the ruling party, Misra said. She continued that the Congress has designed an anti-inflation campaign that will be rolled out in phases.

The electoral victory of the likes of Aradhana Misra makes it impossible to write off the Congress, despite the recent rejection of the party at the polls. The Congress is still attractive for its pan India presence, and its magical manifesto that professes a more gentle view of the world.

The problem at the moment is not being able to practice what the Congress itself preaches. Lucknow is beginning to better appreciate local leaders trying to strengthen the Congress so that the party is able to match up to the power and glory enjoyed by the ruling party today. Instead of waiting endlessly for Priyanka Gandhi to travel from Delhi to wake up the Congress cadre in fits and starts in UP, Congress workers are happy to take to the streets under local leaders like Tiwari and Misra.

Utkarsh Mishra, a Lucknow University (LU) student, told The Citizen that he was part of the anti-inflation protest. He was beaten by the police for trying to proceed to the governor’s house along with other protestors.

‘Despite the hurt and highhandedness of the police, I am prepared to participate in any protest against injustices like the unaffordable price of essential food to citizens,’ the student said.

In a separate protest, the students of LU want the Tagore Library on the campus to remain open till at least 9 pm. The administration promises to look into the matter but it is doubtful that the students will be allowed those extra hours that they want to spend in the library.

The reason is that the boys hostel closes at 9 pm and the girls hostel shuts its doors at 7 pm. To extend the working hours of the library the administration will first have to stretch the entry time of the girls hostel to 9 pm as well.

“It is unfair that girls are not allowed to use the library after 7 pm while the male students stay on the campus till 9 pm. Why this discrimination between female and male students?” LU student Sadaf Tasleem wants to know.

Senior journalist Ambrish Kumar wants to know if the state is annoyed with journalists is the police allowed to parade them naked in public?

Lucknow based Kumar was a student leader and has spent decades asking questions as a journalist. On his YouTube channel, Ambrish Kumar said that in a long career in journalism, he has not witnessed what he does now. He was anchoring a discussion amongst journalists on the incident of citizens who were stripped and assaulted inside a police station in Sidhi district of Madhya Pradesh and their photographs circulated on social media.

No professional journalist has reported the plight of the people at the police station and the violation of the human rights of the citizens. It is through social media that the horrific incident has been exposed.

How difficult it has become to practice journalism today is the moral of this story, especially for low paid reporters filing news from remote corners of districts in the countryside.

In UP’s Ballia district three scribes were arrested early this month for reporting against the leak of a Class 12 examination paper. The Joint Journalist Sangharsh Samiti is protesting the arrest of the Ballia journalists but there is silence over the incident in the national media.

It is local journalists who have resolved to continue their agitation for the release of their colleagues punished for doing their job. The police have arrested 50 people in connection with the same story. After one paper was leaked, the state government had cancelled the board examination in 24 districts of UP, affecting the future of countless students.

Lucknow often remembers senior BJP leader Rajnath Singh fondly. One of the most seasoned BJP politicians from the Hindi heartland, the defence minister is a rare politician left over from the Atal Bihari Vajpayee times when politics was a little more gentle and the country’s Defence Minister had a little more time for UP.

Rajnath Singh has been playing politics since 1975. He was district president of Mirzapur and spent 18 months in jail during the Emergency. In 1984, he was president of BJP’s youth wing in UP, and in 2000 he was sworn in as the 19th and fourth Thakur Chief Minister of the state. In 2014, Lucknow elected him to the Lok Sabha and again in 2019 he defeated SP candidate Poonam Shatrughan Sinha by over three lakh votes.

The senior politician may have few dreams left unfulfilled for himself but the same cannot be said when it comes to son Pankaj. The 43 year-old Pankaj Singh is a MLA from Noida and BJP General Secretary, UP.

When the UP government was sworn in on 25 March, the talk of Pankaj Singh becoming a minister was loud.

That Pankaj Singh has been left out of the new council of ministers in UP is part of the process of keeping Rajnath Singh away from the corridors of power, is the question.