The Congress will go it alone in next year’s assembly election in Uttar Pradesh, party vice-president Rahul Gandhi said.
In an interview with Hindustan Times, Gandhi also said Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav tolerated corruption and lawlessness that led to his inability to deliver on people’s expectations. The failure of the young chief minister left him sad, Gandhi said.
Gandhi is on a 2500-km ‘Kisan Yatra’ across Uttar Pradesh, seeking to revive the Congress in a state it dominated before regional parties built along caste lines displaced it from power 27 years ago. Most political analysts give the party little chance in next year’s polls.
But Gandhi said the Congress will not have any pre-election alliance with another party as it is not ready to dilute its vision for the state in order to get votes.
“I feel the Congress should stand on its own and fight the 2017 assembly elections alone for its ideology and the policies,” he said.
“We want to give a vision to Uttar Pradesh. We want to show a path to the state.”
Gandhi said as a young chief minister Akhilesh, who became the CM at the age of 39 in 2012, raised hope with his victory five years ago.
“Uttar Pradesh gave a big opportunity to chief minister Akhilesh Yadav. Although I am a leader of the opposition, I felt sad that a youth leader has failed to deliver,” Gandhi told HT on Thursday.
“He should not have tolerated – corruption and goondaism, etc. If he had taken a strong stance earlier he would not have failed. This has harmed Uttar Pradesh. Five years have gone waste.”
In Uttar Pradesh, the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have alternated in power alone or with allies for almost three decades. Gandhi said both parties failed the people of the state.
The 46-year-old Congress leader said he respected Akhilesh and Mayawati – leaders of the SP and BSP – personally but neither managed to deliver the shift that Uttar Pradesh needs to prosper.
“Kanshiramji and Mayawatiji did good work before she became chief minister. After the death of Kanshi Ram she threw his legacy to the winds,” Gandhi said.
“She has totally compromised and sold the movement. Why did Mayawati sell her movement for money? I have failed to understand this. She has not only harmed her own interest but also caused harm to Uttar Pradesh.”
Sharing his vision for Uttar Pradesh, Gandhi spoke of the state’s potential in agriculture, listing everything from food-processing units and cold chains to marketing facilities in order to ensure farmers’ progress.
“Nobody believed in UP in the past 27 years. I have trust in UP. I do not know how and why? But I am absolutely convinced that UP has the potential to be the number one state in India,” he said.
“I told this to investors. I told them UP has big potential. They questioned what I said. I told them, you will see this happening, if not today then tomorrow. Nobody realises this because no one has given the people of the state a vision.
“I think Uttar Pradesh wants a paradigm shift. Whether the Congress can provide the paradigm shift to the people of UP? This is for the Congress to decide. The Congress has the opportunity. It should grab this opportunity.”