Rahul Gandhi owned up to the Congress debacle in Uttar Pradesh but promised to stay the course in the state for the party’s revival.
“I led the campaign from the front, I take the responsibility,” he said in a press appearance outside 10, Janpath on Tuesday evening. He stepped forward to take responsibility for the loss amid a scramble among Congressmen to insulate him from any blame for the UP humiliation. The ring-fencing had started no sooner had the results confirmed that Samajwadi Party had swept the state and Congress had come a poor fourth.
Rahul blamed the decimation on the “party’s weak fundamentals” in UP and conceded the weakness would continue till the organization was strengthened. Complimenting Samajwadi Party and Akhilesh Yadav, the Congress heir apparent said the mood was clearly for the main opposition party.
He, however, added that the defeat would not lessen his interest in UP. “I promised the people of UP that I will be seen with the poor, on the roads and fields. My work will continue. My efforts will be to re-erect the Congress in UP.”
Rahul’s brave decision to face the cameras came amid mounting criticism that the party was trying to shield him from the responsibility of defeat. The implications of the UP debacle can be serious for Rahul’s fledgling political career as the party positions him for the top job at the Centre in 2014 elections.
While the young leader made a mark in the 2009 polls, carving out a niche “youth factor” among the electorate, it has been a rough ride for him since. His mission of reviving Congress in the Hindi heartland suffered a setback when Congress was trounced in Bihar despite him leading the charge. A similar fate in UP threatens to dilute the belief in his leadership and charisma. His bold experiments with party nominations also bombed in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
The next elections in Gujarat are anyway tough for Congress and a stumble for Rahul there can only add to the negatives on his bio-data.
Rahul, however, discounted such fears. “I view my work as working for the people of this country, trying to improve the political system of this country. Certainly I expect to have victories on my way, and defeats… I take it in my stride.”
211 is the number of meetings Rahul Gandhi addressed in UP, that’s one rally for every two assembly seats
48 days is the time he spent campaigning in UP. Covered nearly all districts Nov 12, 2011 is when he began campaign with mass contact programme at Barabanki
Nov 14, 2011 is when he addressed his first meeting at Phulpur on Nehru’s birth anniversary
Rahul held road shows in 18 assembly seats 200km is the total distance he covered in his campaign bus
On Feb 20, FIR registered against Rahul and 19 others in Kanpur for violating Sec 144 during a road show