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Despite UP debacle, Rahul's job is secure

March 15, 2017 09:09 IST

Despite the loss in UP and missing the bus in Goa and Manipur, Congress leaders aren't questioning Rahul Gandhi.
Amit Agnihotri reports.

There is no threat to Rahul Gandhi's leadership of the Congress, for now.

The recent poll debacle in Uttar Pradesh -- where Rahul took a big gamble by joining hands with Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav -- and the lost opportunity in Goa and Manipur, are not expected to pose any serious threats to the Congress vice-president as his mother and party chief Sonia Gandhi continues overarching control of the Grand Old Party.

Though there has been unease within the party over the fact that the SP-Congress alliance did not work in UP, not many are speaking out.

Of the 403 assembly seats in UP, the SP contested 298, but won only 47. The Congress contested 105, but won only seven.

Rahul, who broke his silence three days after the results in five states, played down the UP debacle.

'In Opposition, you have ups and downs. We had a little down in UP, we accept it,' Rahul told reporters.

He accused the Bharatiya Janata Party, which won 312 seats in UP, of having polarised voters in the politically crucial state. 'They did it, however; they won the election,' he said.

In Goa, where the Congress did not secure a simple majority but emerged as the single largest party, the BJP has been accused of horse-trading to form a government.

In Manipur, the BJP faces similar allegations.

'There were five state elections, two won by the BJP and three by the Congress. In two of the states where we won, democracy has been undermined by them using money power. The mandate of the people of Goa and Manipur has been stolen by the BJP,' Rahul said.

The Congress challenged Goa Governor Mridula Sinha's decision to invite Manohar Parrikar to be sworn in as chief minister on Tuesday, but the Supreme Court okayed Sinha's move and asked the Parrikar to prove his majority on Thursday.

The Congress won 17 of Goa's 40 assembly seats and even though the BJP won just 13, it stitched the support of smaller parties to cross the half-way mark needed to form the government.

In Manipur, the Congress won 28 of 60 seats and the BJP 21. The BJP named ex-Congress worker N Biren Singh its chief minister nominee and stitched support to rack up 32 lawmakers.

Though party veterans Digvijaya Singh and Anil Shastri defended Rahul saying he is not responsible for the assembly poll results, senior leader Satyavrat Chaturvedi said the party vice-president has to think what he wants to do in the larger interest of the organisation.

Chaturvedi, who noted the party was slow in Goa and Manipur, said the time for surgery in the Congress was over.

Last year, the Congress Working Committee, the highest decision making body in the party, passed a unanimous resolution urging Rahul to take over the reins of the organisation from Sonia, who is not keeping good health.

However, the CWC also extended Sonia's tenure as party president till the end of 2017.

Over the past year, Sonia has withdrawn herself, making Rahul the de facto party president as he took the key decisions and rallied the Opposition against demonetisation.

Indicating that Rahul's status remains unaltered, Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh, who delivered an impressive electoral victory to the party, met the Congress vice-president and invited him to attend his swearing-in ceremony on Thursday in Chandigarh.

Captain Singh, who also discussed names of probable cabinet members with Rahul, said the time was ripe for the vice-president to be promoted.

Amit Agnihotri
Source: source