This was the consensus at a meeting of senior party leaders from Uttar Pradesh with AICC General Secretary Madhusudan Mistry, who is in-charge of the party affairs in the state.

"Rank and file of the party wants Congress to contest the elections on its own," former Union minister RPN Singh said after the deliberations.

Besides PCC Chief Nirmal Khatri, 20 senior leaders from the state including former Union ministers Salman Khurshid, Sriprakash Jaiswal and Mohsina Kidwai participated in the meeting, which was held in the backdrop of the Bihar Assembly poll results which saw party leaders in an upbeat mood.

They wanted the party to draw up an aggressive agitation programme ahead of the Assembly polls and an ambitious action plan to take Uttar Pradesh on the fast track. Congress, they said, should pay special emphasis on programme for youth and women, who have been "neglected" in the non-Congress regimes for the past over two decades.

Congress has been out of power in Uttar Pradesh since 1989 in the wake of the Mandir and Mandal issues that saw it getting increasingly marginalised. Some leaders said that projection of a Chief Ministerial candidate would benefit the party. Mistry dismissed reports about plans to change the PCC chief.

Meanwhile, Rahul Gandhi will be reaching out to farmers in Uttar Pradesh by undertaking a Kisan Padyatra in Saharanpur district on Monday. The Congress Vice President will be interacting with farmers in Hardakhedi, Sikrikalan and Patni villages of the district.

Saharanpur is part of western Uttar Pradesh where there is a major issue of payment arrears to sugarcane growers who are seeking a higher price for their produce.

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