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Updated: April 6, 2012 15:22 IST

Leaving poll debacle behind, Rahul begins stocktaking

Smita Gupta
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STEPPING STONE: Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi after a review meeting on U.P. elections in New Delhi on Thursday. Photo: PTI
STEPPING STONE: Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi after a review meeting on U.P. elections in New Delhi on Thursday. Photo: PTI

A virtually non-existent party organisation, damaging statements made by senior leaders, unresponsive Union Ministers and leaders, including those at the district-level, and the late distribution of party ticket adversely affected the Congress' chances in the recent Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.

This assessment was given by about 50 of the 153 losing candidates to general secretary Rahul Gandhi on Thursday.

At a no-holds-barred meeting, the first of a two-day stocktaking exercise at the party's “war room” on Gurdwara Rakabganj Road, Congress candidates who lost but secured a minimum of at least 20,000 votes, directed their wrath at senior leaders and Union Ministers from the State who, they said, not only made damaging statements but were also indifferent to the needs of the candidates and presented a picture of a divided house.

Indeed, those who attended the meeting highlighted the fact that controversial statements made by senior Ministers Salman Khurshid, Beni Prasad Verma and Sriprakash Jaiswal played a role in the party's poor performance. The statements dealt with issues such as quotas for minorities and the threat of President's rule in case the Congress lost the polls. While the first created the impression that the party only wished to please one section of the electorate, the second drove voters to the Samajwadi Party, leaving the Congress out in the cold, the candidates said.

The objective of the current exercise was not merely to fix responsibility but also to understand what went wrong, so that the party could work on a strategy not just for the Lok Sabha elections, just two years away in 2014, but for the upcoming local bodies polls, party sources said adding that while Mr. Gandhi accepted most of the complaints, he saw nothing wrong in ticket distribution.

Those who attended the meeting were asked to answer a questionnaire that had 13 queries on the reasons for the party's poor showing and offer suggestions for a strategy for the local bodies' elections as well as the Lok Sabha polls. The answers were frank, the sources said.

Interestingly, Digvijaya Singh, general secretary in-charge of the Uttar Pradesh elections, who made his share of controversial statements, is out of town.

Mr. Gandhi may have led from the front, running an aggressive campaign, but in the absence of a strong organisation or a clear strategy, the party succeeded in adding just six sets to its 2007 tally of 22.

The candidates reportedly said that while Mr. Gandhi's high-voltage speeches contributed to the defeat of Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party, the party was not able to convert the advantage into votes because it lacked an organisation.

Mr. Gandhi had accepted responsibility for the defeat, saying: “I know I campaigned and led from the front, it is my responsibility... Organisationally, we are not where we should be in Uttar Pradesh... The fundamentals of the Congress in Uttar Pradesh were weak. Unless we work on those fundamentals, we will remain weak.”

On Friday, he will have another session, this time with the winning candidates, to get their analysis of the results.

Congress lost to DMK in Tamil Nadu 45 years ago. Congress is yet to understand the reason for the defeats in various states. Congress does not want to look into regional aspirations and problems. It wants somebody else to shoulder it. This helped regional parties to grow, holding the placard of regional aspirations. Congress still wants to share power in states by running piggy back on regional parties. Congress do not have local strong leaders in any of the states in India. Indra Gandhi did not like state leaders growing bigger than her. She used divide and rule within the party at state levels. She always had a team called 'Loyalist" in every state and Keep in tender-hooks, the then Chief Ministers. Everybody became loyal to "HIGH COMMAND" and never bothered about local organisational development. Congress today do not have grass root connection. Most of the "Loyalists" are Rajya sabha members. Congress should now think of working Bottom to top. Drop the word "High Command",Madam

from:  B. Krishnan
Posted on: Apr 6, 2012 at 21:31 IST

The Congress must look beyond dyanstic rule and introduce genuine inner party democracy if it is to win elections. Dyantic rule is neither good for the party or for the country.

from:  krishna
Posted on: Apr 6, 2012 at 02:07 IST

I do not know, why he is meeting the defeated congress candidates, who secured
more than 20000 votes to find the cause of the Party's debacle. Instead, he should address public meetings across UP and find out how many turn up there to know his own worth. He should also socialize with Dalit families as during the polls and over meals with them find out why they did not support Congress.

from:  KS Raghunathan
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 22:26 IST

Sycophancy, no self respect, internal bickering, corruption(both moral
and otherwise), too many problems to list here. Congress needs leaders
who have integrity, who are honest and especially those people will look
up to. Can you name one? UP voted for Akhilesh because, they think he
could be that person.

from:  Sridhar Reddy Pasula
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 22:18 IST

The reasons of weak organisation, sub quota for Muslims etc., are not the main factors that led to the poor show. But, the wrong economic policies of the UPA that favoured the business to amass more wealth than any meaningful distribution of benefits of economic growth among the masses is the chief factor for the drubbing in the UP Assembly elections. The wrong advisers of Sonia Gandhi governing the economy of the country should first be replaced with people who have real concern for the common man. The Congress Party has miserably failed in sensing the mood of the people against the Government's economic policy. The rise in prices of essential commodity without matching rise in income has moved the common man away from the Congress Party. It is too late to undo the damage already done.

from:  S.G.Puttaswamy
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 22:01 IST

Too much attention is being given to this man. Too much unnecessary
attention. Somebody please tell me why the Congress is a party? It's a
family run business! And this article clearly proves it. Nothing against
the Congress, they have no alternate leadership to Sonia, Rahul, Priyanka
and Robert.

from:  Chakravarthy
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 21:14 IST

Yes, why not? There is no other go for the congress.Given the performance of the UPA Govt the congress should accept the UP poll verdict.The count down has been started for its down fall from the center.

from:  Anthony Rao.Reddy
Posted on: Mar 7, 2012 at 02:33 IST

The Congress Party has been shown its worth in 4 out of 5 states. Punjab has created history by retaining the SAD+ in power. The so called 'revival' of the congress in UP has remained a myth. In Goa the congress has been ousted by the BJP. All this after Anna Hazare cancelled his tour to the 5 election states. I can just imagine what would have happened if Anna went on his tour. This is just a trailer of things to come. People are fed up with the Congress Party. Rahul Gandhi's charm might work on a few ladies but he has nothing else to show for himself except for the long list of family politicians. The dynasty politics that the Congress follows will get the country nowhere. The Congress should realise this. But i guess the Congress prefers to bask in its pre-independence glory.

from:  Rahul Gangadharan
Posted on: Mar 6, 2012 at 16:10 IST

It is a clear fact that all non congress ruling states are doing better. Cong in its current leadership is not in the interest of India.

from:  My name
Posted on: Mar 6, 2012 at 16:04 IST

People have no Choice whether whether SP wins or the Congress wins as no party is doing good to the senior Citizens who are helpless in meeting their medical requirement. The disparity between the rich & poor is growing day by day and it is not too far before the poor revolts !!!

from:  V. SIVAKUMAR
Posted on: Mar 6, 2012 at 15:51 IST

Chuck out Mr. Dig Vijay Singh, Mr. Khurshid and Mr. Beni Prasd Verma. End dynastic rule. Eliminate the corrupt. Make some good introspection or else 2014 will be out of hands for the Congress.

from:  N. R. RAMACHANDRAN
Posted on: Mar 6, 2012 at 15:43 IST

This is the future verdict of the upcoming elections in 2014 from the 25% of the people in India.But the Other parties which is coming to power should realise that this verdict can boomerang on them if they show their irreverence.

from:  PRANAB
Posted on: Mar 6, 2012 at 15:19 IST

“whatever verdict has been given by the people, we have accepted....It was against our expectations and we will find out where we have gone wrong“. It is really an easy job to find out where they gone wrong?

from:  P.R.UTHAYASANKAR
Posted on: Mar 6, 2012 at 15:03 IST

The writting is very clear on the wall...people have had enough with congress. Its very encouraging to see the perform or perish sentiments shown by the voters of UP towards the political parties.I hope the new government takes cognizance of this and would be proactive in matters concerning the common citizen

from:  Aditya Shetty
Posted on: Mar 6, 2012 at 14:13 IST

They will accept the verdict!!! Do they have any other choice. Like send police for people of UP as they did for Baba Ramdev and Anna. Mr. Rahul Gandhi should now know that he is nothing. I bet even Priyanka will not save face of congress in 2014.

from:  Shiv Shankar Dayal
Posted on: Mar 6, 2012 at 14:12 IST

The writting is clear on the wall.People have had enough with Congress. Also its very encouraging to see the perform or perish sentiments shown by the voters of UP.People have voted for a change and I hope the new government would be on its toes and be proactive in matter related to common citizens.

from:  Aditya Shetty
Posted on: Mar 6, 2012 at 14:08 IST

Political leaders have to be thrown up from among them by the people. They cannot be air-dropped on them by others. The Congress party and its supporters in the media have not realised this fact.

from:  K.Vijayakumar
Posted on: Mar 6, 2012 at 13:57 IST

It seems senior congress leaders do not listen to people. In South too people are not happy with the party.

from:  Kumar
Posted on: Mar 6, 2012 at 13:34 IST

What ever the congress is needed to win elections and prove as a national party,they have two very fine qualities,One to accept the people's verdict(they have no choice)and the other to bow to the wishes of the high command(which is their choice). In major states North,East,West or South they have been bowing to the verdicts and accepting the decisions of High commands.With so many loses in state and central elections,it is a wonder that the high command is still claims to be high in this country.

from:  doodu
Posted on: Mar 6, 2012 at 13:25 IST

The verdict is for UPA government if you not work well you may not be in executive seat.Second Mr. Rahul Gandhi result after very hard work clearly satiate that his charm is lost. Third it clear the way for Mrs Priyanka to come in center of politics.Major result show that the election is mostly affected in favor of regional party SP , BSP or other small party.Lets hope best that is also become a economic hub as cultural hub.

from:  S Khan
Posted on: Mar 6, 2012 at 13:22 IST

do they have a choice to say something else?

from:  rukmani
Posted on: Mar 6, 2012 at 13:21 IST

Is there any other option ? What all TAMASHA went on in this election ? My God !

from:  A Ramadas
Posted on: Mar 6, 2012 at 13:04 IST

Sit in opposition!!. The results in UP has made the mockery of every congressmen and women, it is a justified slap on there face and proclaims that just reaching the villages doesn't mean you are reaching our hearts. It's a whitewash on Rahul's present and future initiatives.

from:  dinesh
Posted on: Mar 6, 2012 at 12:54 IST

Sitting in the opposition is not a bad option at, keeping LS elections in mind.

from:  Alex
Posted on: Mar 6, 2012 at 12:24 IST

They will have to accept one thing also that they are going to lose in 2014 general elections as they have campaigned to 'Just Think' to the public and public has just thought right. If congress can make scam in center so generally why can't they in UP. If they could not change the country and UP in last 60 years then what is the next hope?

from:  Shailendra
Posted on: Mar 6, 2012 at 11:52 IST

Claim your position once you bring back all black money.

from:  Kasimani Baskaran
Posted on: Mar 6, 2012 at 11:02 IST

U will Have to accept the fact.....There is no looking back.......It clearly shows people is not interested in Rahul who's is being pushed to limelight.....It also clearly indicates congress in no more relevance in Uttar Pradesh.........There are lot of lessons to be learnt.....people voted you to power to administer the country not to sell it......

from:  DM SREEJTH
Posted on: Mar 6, 2012 at 10:59 IST

Where is Mr. Digvijay'a' Singh?

from:  Venkat
Posted on: Mar 6, 2012 at 10:59 IST

As if they had a choice. Go ahead, subvert democracy now like your Law Minister openly declared.

from:  abhejit
Posted on: Mar 6, 2012 at 10:58 IST
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