Election results a huge blow for Rahul, Congress (Lead)March 6th, 2012 - 6:55 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, March 6 (IANS) The Congress licked its wounds Tuesday after being routed in key state elections that a party leader had called a semi-final before the 2014 Lok Sabha battle, with Rahul Gandhi’s vote-catching abilities coming under question like never before.
Although it had a sweeping win in Manipur, it was no consolation for India’s ruling party as it lost Goa, failed to dislodge the ruling parties in Punjab and Uttarakhand, and suffered a rout in politically critical Uttar Pradesh.
The most humiliating news came from Rae Bareli, Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s Lok Sabha constituency where all its five candidates lost. Rahul’s sister Priyanka Vadra was in charge of the campaign in both Rae Bareli and adjoining Amethi.
Rahul Gandhi, the star campaigner in sprawling Uttar Pradesh, accepted responsibility after the party ended up with a pathetic 27 of 403 seats in the state — barely an improvement over the 2007 tally.
“We fought well but the results are not so good,” he said, not looking his usual confident self.
And Gandhi made the frank admission that party activists and pundits have talked about for years: the Congress cannot reclaim Uttar Pradesh with just charisma, it needs a base which was eroded during the late 1980s and 1990s under the weight of aggressive caste and communal mobilisation.
“The Congress fundamentals were weak. Until we set that right, that weakness will not go away,” he said in a rare admission. “Organisationally we are not where we should be.”
But that self-confession, however, did not answer why the Congress was defeated by the ruling Akali Dal-BJP combine in Punjab and why it couldn’t dislodge the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Uttarakhand.
To add to its woes, the Congress decisively lost Goa to BJP.
Congress leaders and central ministers admitted they were disappointed but tried to insulate Rahul Gandhi from any blame although he addressed some 200 election rallies in Uttar Pradesh and hogged more media space than any other political leader — his message reaching millions of homes.
“The UP results are deeply disappointing,” admitted Law Minister Salman Khurshid, whose wife Louise was one of the prominent losers in the state.
Added Congress leader and Minister of State for Science and Technology Ashwani Kumar: “This calls for a very serious reflection and introspection on what went wrong.”
The Congress, India’s oldest party, won 16 percent of votes in Uttar Pradesh. It fared better among upper castes but clearly failed to woo back its two long-lost voters: Dalits and Muslims.
Pundits and opposition leaders poured scorn on the Congress leadership.
A Congress source admitted to IANS that the results were “a major blow” and were partly a result of the corruption charges faced by the Congress-led government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
“There is no doubt corruption played a big role in voters’ thinking,” said the source.
The source said the Congress blundered by injecting “communal politics” towards the end of campaign in Uttar Pradesh when it promised special job quotas for Muslims.
Marxist leader Suhasini Ali said the Congress blundered by not projecting anyone as a possible chief minister in Uttar Pradesh, where the party has been out of power since 1989.
BJP’s Sudheendra Kulkarni underlined there was “very strong anti-Congress sentiment” in almost all the states that went to the polls.
Congress-turned-Samajwadi Party politician Shahid Siddiqui said the Congress leadership’s “ostrich like attitude” and “refusal to learn” from previous mistakes were major factors.
Insurgency-hit Manipur was the Congress’ only saving grace, with its government getting an emphatic mandate for five more years, decimating a coalition of opposition parties.
With Lok Sabha elections only two years away, the Congress is limping in such major states as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh — which together account for some 260 parliamentary seats.
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- Sonia blames party weakness for debacle (Second Lead) - Mar 07, 2012
- Thumbs up for SP and Akali, Congress wounded (Roundup) - Mar 06, 2012
- SP and Akali Dal score big, Congress bruised (Afternoon Lead) - Mar 06, 2012
- Party organisation weak in UP: Sonia (Lead) - Mar 07, 2012
- No question of PM stepping down: Sonia - Mar 07, 2012
- Gandhi charisma fading? Congress humbled in Rae Bareli, Amethi - Mar 06, 2012
- Rahul to review UP poll results Friday - Apr 03, 2012
- Elections 2012: UP poll battle begins Wednesday - Feb 06, 2012
- Sonia, Priyanka descend on Rae Bareli, slam Mayawati (Third Lead) - Feb 15, 2012
- Rahul in Amethi to 're-motivate' Congress workers - Apr 30, 2012
- UP set for hung house, SP leads, BSP routed (Second Lead) - Mar 06, 2012
- Sonia, Priyanka descend on Rae Bareli, flay Mayawati (Second Lead) - Feb 14, 2012
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