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Home > News > Report

Rahul's campaign helped party: Congress

Onkar Singh in New Delhi | May 11, 2007 17:43 IST
Last Updated: May 11, 2007 20:55 IST

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The Battle for UP
Rahul Gandhi, whom Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had projected as the future of Uttar Pradesh, appears not to have made much difference to the party's fortunes in the assembly elections in the state.

After vigorous campaigning by the young MP from Amethi during all seven phases of the polls, on top of his mother's electioneering, the party remained in the fourth place and managed to bag virtually the 25 seats it had in the outgoing House.

Congress leaders rubbished claims by detractors that the Gandhi family magic failed to deliver.

"Rahul will lead the party in UP in 2009 (in the Lok Sabha polls)," declared senior Congress leader and Union Minister Kapil Sibal, the party's campaign chief in the state.

Abhishek Singvi,official spokesperson of the Congress party, defended the work done by Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra in the Uttar Pradesh elections. He refused to admit that the family chirstma failed to click and the party did not do as well as had been projected to do.

"Obviously we are disappointed because we had expected more than 35 seats in the assembly polls but there is always a scope for improvement. We had said that Rahul is in Uttar Pradesh for a long haul and a lot needs to be done," he said.

According to Abhishek it is not correct to compare brother and sister in terms of their style of campaign. " Priyanka is more extrovert while Rahul is an introvert. Both slogged in the heat of Uttar Pradesh and you cannot call it merely a road show alone. It was a serious effort," he said while trying to build up defence for Rahul Gandhi.

He complimented Mayawati for an impressive victory in the assemby elections. He hoped that Bahujan Samaj Party would play a constructive role in the election of the new president of India.

"You cannot expect her to switch sides so soon that after defeating BJP it will go and side with the NDA on the election of the new President. Obviously she is going to have a say in the election of the Presidential nominee," Singvi said.

Senior leader Satyavrat Chaturvedi blamed the lack of party organisation at the grassroots for the failure to spread the message of Rahul who, he said, had done a "tremendous job" in galvanising workers.

AICC General Secretary Ashok Gehlot, in-charge of party affairs in Uttar Pradesh, dismissed suggestions that Rahul has failed. He insisted the young leader had been maintaining from day one that the Congress was fighting the elections with an eye on the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.

He said Rahul had been successful in bringing to the centrestage the issue of development in the state where the course of politics changed after being caught in the Mandal and Masjid issues.

Congress leaders including Gehlot said Rahul's roadshows checkmated the BJP, which saw a sharp decline in its fortunes despite raking up the Hindutva agenda.

Gehlot and others maintained that the Congress could not come out with flying colours as the people of Uttar Pradesh were bent on removing Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav from power and found the alternative in BSP.

A Union ,minister, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the Congress bagging over 40 seats would have meant that Rahul had been effective and any score less than this provides lessons to be learnt by the party and the young MP.

Rahul has been instrumental in deciding the party's strategy in Uttar Pradesh right from the beginning and was credited with the view that he wanted the Congress to go it alone as parts of efforts to revive it in the key state.

He had expressed his readiness at the Hyderabad plenary in January 2006 to lead the party in Uttar Pradesh if the high command so directed.

Though Rahul was not given any formal position in the state or in the AICC, PCC chief Salman Khursheed's statement that the MP was the "face" of Congress in Uttar Pradesh was a telling comment about his role and place in the organisation.

(With PTI Inputs)