The Congress celebrated its new found strength in Uttar Pradesh politics by putting up an impressive show at the Ravindralaya Auditorium complex in Lucknow on Saturday.
The event to 'felicitate' the 21 newly elected Members of Parliament from the state also marked the revival of the party after a gap of nearly two decades.
But the party's two most prominent and powerful MPs from the state -- Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi -- were conspicuous by their absence. But there was no dearth of enthusiasm among Congress members who had traveled from across the state to attend the event.
"Remember, your goal is to vote out the Mayawati government and establish a Congress regime in this state in 2012, when the state goes to polls," was the common refrain of all key speakers including All India Congress Committee general secretary and former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh, who was the chief guest.
Singh arrived at the meet after paying a visit to UP Congress chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi's house that was torched allegedly by Bahujan Samaj Party members.
The enthusiasm in the rank and file of Congress clearly signaled the beginning of the party's rejuvenation in the country's most populous state.
Cries of 'Sonia Gandhi zindabad', 'Rahul Gandhi zindabad' and 'Congress party zindabad' could be heard intermittently between speeches of different leaders.
Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid profusely praised the party cadres.
"The most important thing in a democracy is to maintain a chord with the grassroots workers. I believe that if a high office becomes a hurdle in this path, then one should abdicate the chair rather than alienate oneself from the rank and file," said Khurshid amidst cheers from the crowds.
State Congress president Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Congress Legislature Party leader Pramod Tiwari and newly elected MP Jagdambika Pal all focused on the 2012 assembly polls.
"Given the poor governance and overall deterioration on all fronts, elections could be held anytime in the state," observed Congress leader Sriprakash Jaiswal.
Digvijay Singh added, "Where there is a will, there is a way." He called upon the party's Union ministers from UP to not just confine themselves to their respective constituencies, but travel across the state.
"It is about time that our party's ministers undertook tours of different areas of the state and not only apprised the people of what the central government was doing for them, but also drew their attention to the failures and pitfalls of the Mayawati government," Singh asserted.
Singh is scheduled to meet the newly elected MPs and senior party leaders in the state to chalk out their future action plan.