SPEAK TO any Congressman in Uttar Pradesh and the disillusionment spills over. A leadership that has distanced itself from the workers, the spreading stain of corruption, the complete disconnect between self-styled leaders and the people ---the Congress is a party falling apart. And the only hope on the horizon is Super Glue a.ka. Rahul Gandhi.
Party workers along the state's Moradabad-Budaun- Aligarh belt are convinced that Rahul is the best thing that could have happened to the Congress. He is the "adhesive" to fix the party, they chorus.
But before the scion takes over the reins of the party with an eye on the forthcoming elections in UP, there's much work to be done. To start with, there are only "leaders" and no workers left in the state unit. The handful who remain allege humiliation and ill- treatment at the hands of a leadership. The state leaders, it is felt, are "Delhi-centric" and work on a formula of "keeping Delhi in good humour".
An ordinary party worker, on the other hand, is a non-entity who is expected to wait on or for the powers-that-be. State Congress president Salman Khursheed's record on this count has been particularly dismal. There is no dearth of instances when Congress loyalists have travelled from far-flung areas for an audience only to be told to "come tomorrow… a tomorrow which often extends into months" they lament.
Inaccessibility apart, the leaders are caged in a mindset that has yet to accept that it is a party out of power. Any introspection is unheard of. Main players of the leadership are being charged with running the party as a "multinational company with an eye on profits"
Corrupt leaders operate from air-conditioned rooms and luxury sedans; state functionaries are out of touch with ground reality and there is a disconnect between the self styled leadership, its workers and the electorate which once swore by the Congress and is still willing to look at alternatives to caste politics.
Enter Rahul Gandhi, and the house will be in order again, hope party workers.
They see in him a leader who can crack the whip, demand results and ensure that "leaders" rough it out. His roadshows, for instance, would force leaders out of ivory towers and his interaction with the rank and file will not only enthuse them but also help him sift "good from bad, corrupt from evil and doers from hypocrites".
His presence will also send out the message that the Congress is being revived in the state; that the party is not repackaging and recycling familiar, suspect faces but injecting fresh blood under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi.
The hopes may be too high, it might be too early for Rahul to woo the electorate but one thing is clear: it's time for the party to wake up.