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After UP, destination Gujarat for Rahul?

delhi Updated: Feb 20, 2012 01:22 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi

After Uttar Pradesh, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi is likely to turn his attention to BJP-ruled Gujarat, where the party has been desperately seeking a revival of its fortunes for the past 17 years.

Chandulal Mehta headed the last Congress government in Gujarat in 1995. Since then, the party has been struggling hard to regain power.

Sources said the next destination for the Congress would be Gujarat, where Rahul has already prepared the ground by strengthening the Youth Congress. For the first time ever in the state, the organisational elections in the Youth Congress were held in 2009. Since then, more than 9 lakh new members have been enrolled.

"His philosophy is clear. He is going to focus on states where the Congress is facing a tough time. After UP, his next stop will be Gujarat," said a Rahul aide.

The state goes to polls in November this year. In the 2007 elections, the BJP won 117 out of the total 182 seats, while the Congress could manage only 59.

Rahul has been at the forefront of the crucial polls in Uttar Pradesh. His sustained and extensive election campaign has generated a "positive response" for the Congress in Uttar Pradesh where the party had been relegated to the margins for more than two decades.

"Some years ago, one could find only a few Congress flag bearers in some parts of UP. But today, we are a force to reckon with — all because of Rahulji," the aide said.

The party is hoping Rahul's magic works in Gujarat as well. But infighting and the weak leadership in the state are worrying factors for Congress managers in Delhi. The party is now planning to replicate the UP strategy in Gujarat.

The party recently concluded a 15-day statewide campaign, highlighting the alleged corruption and mis-governance of the Narendra Modi government.

Last year's victory in the Gandhinagar civic polls and the triumph of its sponsored candidates in the panchayat elections has given a ray of hope to the Congress.