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Cong will be devastated in UP, says secret survey

Last updated on: February 8, 2011 11:33 IST

Cong will be devastated in UP, says secret survey

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In a stunning discovery, the Congress finds itself losing ground in India's most populous state. While Rahul Gandhi tries hard to rebuild the party in the Hindi heartland, a survey commissioned by the party paints a very grim picture of the future, reports Renu Mittal

A survey conducted to gauge the mood of the electorate in Uttar Pradesh has shaken up the top leadership of Congress like never before. The writing is on the wall: the Congress will hopelessly lose Uttar Pradesh to Mayawati.

If elections are held today, Mayawati will become chief minister again with a larger majority.

In a likely repeat of Bihar, the Congress party is poised to drop to single digit with an all time low figure of 9 seats out of 405 in the UP assembly elections, scheduled to be held in 2012, according to a comprehensive survey commissioned by the party. Uttar Pradesh, the most crucial state for the Congress and the Gandhi family, is showing radical preferences.

In spite of party general secretary Digvijay Singh's hyper activism to create a loyal Muslim vote bank for the party, Muslims in UP seem to have decided to ditch Congress en-masse. In spite of Rahul Gandhi's frequent visits to Dalit homes, they are just not ready to ditch Maywati yet.  

A reliable source in the party told rediff.com that in all probability, the Bihar results are likely to be repeated in Uttar Pradesh if the polls were held today. For obvious reasons, rediff.com could not get on record any confirmation of the survey or its results.


Image: Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi
Photographs: Reuters
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The Ayodhya judgement has hit the party

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In sharp contrast, the survey says that Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party is set to increase its tally and will notch up 263 seats in the 405-seat assembly.

Off the record, the results of a survey commissioned by the party in January 2011 have come as a huge shock to Rahul Gandhi, said sources in the party. 

While the survey shows the Congress slipping to fourth position, the Bharatiya Janata Party is at the second position with 72 seats while the Samajwadi party is at 40 seats -- but only if it has an alliance with Ajit Singh's Rashtriya Lok Dal, which is at 13 seats, bettering even the Congress party's tally.  

The survey cites a number of reasons for the poor performance of the Congress.

A prominent reason is the Ayodhya judgement, which has made a negative impact on the Congress base as the Muslims appear to have deserted the party and thrown their weight behind Mayawati. While her Brahmin and Harijan votes are intact as of now, she may get more Muslim votes than she got the last time around.

The second key factor for the party doing badly is the lack of a leader, someone who can be projected at the polls and who can become the visible face of the party as is the case with Mayawati or SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Image: UP Chief Minister Mayawati

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The Bihar results were a setback for Rahul's brand of politics

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The survey states that the BJP may get stronger because the Rajput, Kurmi and Bania communities may gravitate towards it and the party may project Murli Manohar Joshi as the chief minister. The Brahmins may also favour the BJP.

In such a scenario, the Muslim community will get a little rattled and the natural option for them is to inch closer to the BSP rather than any of the other parties.

During the Mayawati regime, the minorities have experienced a feeling of security, reasons the survey. This is reflected in their growing economic clout, participation in government and good postings for officers.

In western UP, in certain areas, nearly  80 per cent of the builders are Muslims; they have been given permission for land use change and are involved in housing projects. The Muslims are direct beneficiaries of many of  Mayawati's schemes. Interestingly, 80 per cent of the political coverage in Urdu papers centres around Mayawati and not Rahul Gandhi.

Another interesting development is the rise of a Muslim party in the state which is seen to be hurting the Congress, which has come second in the recently held by-elections. The survey predicts that this party could get upto 6 seats.

While Rahul Gandhi, who has spent a great deal of time touring UP and reaching out to various sections of the people including the youth, is understandably deeply worried by the findings of the survey, his team has gone into a huddle as the young leader can ill afford a repeat of the party's performance in Bihar.

The Bihar results had dented Rahuls Gandhi's image and popularity and it was seen as a setback for his brand of politics.


Image: BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi

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The Congress needs to project a strong leader

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A senior Congress leader agreed that wherever the Congress had a leader in a state, the party had done well. In Rajasthan, the Congress had Ashok Gehlot, in Punjab it had Captain Amrinder Singh, YS Rajashekhara Reddy led the front in Andhra Pradesh and Sheila Dikshit was the face of the party in Delhi. In other states, the party had failed to project a leader and had performed badly. 

Sources said that yet another survey would be commissioned in February-March which would come after the budget has been presented. It would also gauge the public's reaction to the budget, price-rise and the scams in the Union government, which have not been evaluated in the current survey.


Image: Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit

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