...Another scion faulters leaving Mission 2014 in jeopardy

He tried his best to sell a dream to the people of Uttar Pradesh, perhaps to realise his own dream in the big battle that lay ahead and for that he rolled up his sleeves, turned emotive and also appeared as an angry young man, who is angry at the state’s backwardness and wants to change it.

Rahul Gandhi and sister Priyanka.

The results of the UP assembly polls may not have fully shattered Congress’ ‘yuvraj’s’ dream but his failure to deliver in India’s biggest state has certainly put a question mark on his capability and political acumen and also shaken the confidence of the ‘loyalists’.

A good performance, even if not an outright win, in the UP assembly polls would have boosted the morale of the Congress workers in the state, where the party has been in political wilderness for the past 23 years and also prepared the ground for the bigger battle in 2014.

“Even if we had won 60-70 seats, the revival would have been possible…but now it looks as if we will have to start from scratch again,” said a senior state Congress leader, who managed to win from his assembly constituency.

In 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the Congress had surprised every one by winning 21 seats and finishing second after the Samajwadi Party (SP).  Then also the party had been led by none other than Rahul Gandhi.

The party had led in more than 90 assembly segments in the 2009 general elections giving the leaders a hope that the party could in fact improve upon the same and may be attain a simple majority.

They hoped that a good showing in the assembly polls would certainly boost the party’s performance in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and the party’s tally could go up by a few seats and help install the UPA government at the centre again with Rahul at the top post.

Realising fully well the importance of the UP assembly polls, Rahul had made extensive preparations before going to the polls. The candidates were declared early (from the Congress’ standard) and young leaders were brought in from other states to coordinate the campaigning and give regular feedback to his office.

Rahul did whatever he could to re-establish his party in the politically crucial state. He forged alliance with Rashtriya Lok Dal to corner the votes of ‘jats’, who are considered to be ‘anti-Congress’, fielded a number of turncoats and some ‘tainted’ politicians as well and even played the ‘caste card’ by mentioning caste of Sam Pitroda.

He also allowed the muslim leaders to hammer the 4.5 per cent reservation for the backward muslims in a bid to corner the community’s votes and turned a blind eye to the Batla House remarks by some leaders.

The results, however, showed that nothing worked for him. “The loss on his family turf is even more humiliating and now he will be more concerned about saving his and his mother’s Lok Sabha constituencies,” the leader remarked.” The local leaders have drawn solace from Rahul’s remarks that he would continue to work in UP. “He will require to completely overhaul the party structure and prop up some local leaders with some base in their respective communities,’’ he said.

The irony of the Congress is that it has no other leader to bank upon for a revival in the state. “He is our only hope,’’ the leader added. With a young Akhilesh Yadav all set to confront Rahul in 2014 in the state, which sends 80 members to the Lok Sabha, Rahul’s ‘mission 2014’ now looks more distant if not completely unattainable.

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