Congress party general secretary Rahul Gandhi meets supporters during an election campaign rally in Sitapur, some 85kms northwest of Lucknow. AFP Photo/Sajjad Hussain.
Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi clearly spelt out his agenda on Monday — revive the Congress in Uttar Pradesh.
Mission 2012 might be a media coinage. But back in December 2009, when he had undertaken his two-day trip to revive Youth Congress in Uttar Pradesh, he had made it clear that bringing the party back to power in UP was on top of his agenda, preferably by 2012.
On Monday, as he addressed his first media conference in UP since the polls were announced, he reiterated his determination to stay the course and, once again, build the Congress into the major player it was in the state that was its bastion till 1989.
While predicting a better show by the Congress — "I am confident that the Congress party will revive in UP in these assembly elections," — Gandhi was clear about his mission. "There is no such thing as ‘Mission 2012’" he said. "Whether the Congress gets 200 seats or two in the UP elections, I am not going to leave the state till I revive it," he added.
Asked if the party would support the SP or the BSP in case it was unable to get the magic figure of 202 seats, Gandhi ruled it out. He was categorical about the reasons — lack of development in the state and corruption, which were "slowing down the progress of the nation".
Both Mayawati and Mulayam Singh Yadav, he said, had never visited rural pockets to know about the sufferings of the common man. And for good measure, he added that Advani, during his yatras had never tried to connect with the common people either.
Asked about Baba Ramdev's grouse about black money stashed abroad, Gandhi said Ramdev "sends people" to his meetings with black flags. "But I am not going to run away even if you hurl shoes at me or shoot me. I have learnt from my grandmother not to be afraid of anyone," he added.