Rahul on mission to revive Cong in UP

Only a few days back, Rahul had undertaken a padayatra in the western region of the state from Bhatta-Parsaul village (where the farmers had clashed with police while demanding enhanced compensation for their acquired land) in Greater Noida to Agra during which he had held ‘chaupals’ (meeting at a central place in the village) with the farmers to ‘know in detail’ about land acquisition.

The Congress general secretary later turned his attention to the poverty stricken and backward districts in the eastern region and embarked upon another yatra. It, incidently, was Rahul’s first such yatra in the eastern districts, where the Congress party is not on a strong wicket electorally.

Local satraps
He had chosen the areas to be visited very carefully and without depending on the local party leaders. “Instead of taking help from the local satraps, Rahul selected the areas with the help of Google search,” said a state Congress source adding that the local leaders were told in no uncertain terms to keep away from his tours.

He had arrived unannounced at Varanasi airport taking the district officials and the party leaders by surprise. That he had a definite plan in touring the areas became evident quickly, when Rahul visited Sant Ravidas (a well known dalit icon) where he had food with the devotees and also attended the ‘satsang’ (religious discourse).

“Apparently, Rahul was eying the dalit votes...Sant Ravidas is perhaps the most revered dalit saint and to visit a temple after him and pay obeisance there was clearly a well thought out strategy to send a message to the huge dalit vote bank that the Congress leader indeed had great respect towards dalit icons,” a senior Congress leader said.

It was not surprising that the ruling BSP, which controls the dalit vote bank, felt perturbed and its leaders termed the visit as a ‘political drama aimed at misleading the dalits.’ To make it clear that he was not by-passing the upper castes and the muslims, Rahul also paid obeisance at the famous Vindhyavasini temple in Mirzapur and also offered ‘chadar’ at a well known dargah.

Rahul, who toured the eastern UP districts of Varanasi, Chandauli, Sonebhadra, Ghazipur, Mirzapur and Jaunpur for three days, held a series of direct meetings with the people and discussed with them their problems. “Quite cleverly Rahul ducked the issue of price rise and shifted focus on local issues like shortage of fertilisers, erratic power supply, poor condition of roads etc,” the Congress leader said.

He also harped on the Centre’s flagship scheme MNREGS and tried to drive home the message that the UPA had been sending money to the state but the latter had not been using it for their welfare and instead spending it on construction of parks and statues.

In his typical style, Rahul had tea with people in busy bazaars, had food with them and also took little babies in his arms. He asked them to react to the ‘apathetic attitude’ of the present regime and bring about a change in the state as only then their problems could be resolved.

In his interaction with the villagers Rahul also sought the views of the people on the Jan Lokpal Bill. He said that the UPA government was serious about fighting corruption but made it clear that Lokpal was not the answer.

“There were large crowds wherever Rahul went but the big question is whether it will get translated into votes. Congress has virtually no organisational base at the grassroot level in the state,” local leaders say. The leaders admit that the task is ‘very difficult, if not impossible’ and only time will tell whether Rahul can succeed or not.

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