Uttarakhand bypoll fiasco rings alarm bells in UP

Congress leaders look up to central leadership for help

Though Uttarakhand chief minister Vijay Bahuguna’s son and Congress nominee Saket Bahuguna may have lost the electoral battle in the faraway Tehri in the hilly state but its reverberations are being felt hundreds of miles away in the capital of Uttar Pradesh.

The debacle in the Tehri Lok Sabha bypoll has come as a rude shock for the Congress leaders in the state.

No cakewalk

“We thought Tehri will be a cakewalk for Saket. We have not only been proved wrong but the results also showed that we were way off the mark,” said a senior state Congress leader here.

Saket incidentally happens to be the nephew of former UP Congress chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi.

The state Congress leaders feel the result of Tehri bypoll may have an impact on UP as a large number of people from the hilly state reside here.

The number is sizable in Lucknow and the districts adjoining Uttarakhand. “Not very long back, Tehri seat was part of UP only. The fact that we had formed our government in the state barely six months back and yet lost the poll makes the defeat all the more painful,” the leader said.

While some UP Congress leaders do feel that internal fighting could have played a role in the defeat, a large section, however, attribute the loss to the price rise and especially to the cap on LPG cylinders.

The leaders are of the view that the central leadership must initiate measures to win back the support of the people.

“A bit of populism is the need of the hour. Else we may not be able to repeat our 2009 performance let alone improve it,” a leader said.

The party in UP already suffered from lack of party organisation at the grassroot level.

The membership drive of the Youth Congress has also failed to achieve the desired response and had to be abandoned midway in many districts.

The newly appointed Congress president Nirmal Khatri has taken some steps to strengthen the organisation.

He recently divided the state into eight zones, each having a head. The caste factor was also taken into account while selecting the zonal heads.

Congress could secure only 29 seats in the recent Assembly polls and the party had to face a humiliating defeat in the Nehru-Gandhi pocket boroughs of Raebareli and Amethi.

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