Amid hectic efforts to galvanise votes for the party in UP, Rahul Gandhi recently undertook an unusual task: boosting the morale of senior party leaders. A special meeting was called a week ago at 15, Gurdwara Rakabganj Road — or the ‘war room’ of the Congress — to review campaign strategy for minority-dominated areas in UP. There, the Congress general secretary told his senior colleagues if they can’t show confidence — even at the meeting — about getting votes, how can they mobilise voters.
Gandhi’s remarks, sources said, came after some leaders started calculating which caste and communities may or may not vote for the Congress.
When some tried to explain that the party might get support of upper class Muslims but not the backward minorities, Gandhi pointed out that no single party has a monopoly over a particular caste vote-bank. He also expressed confidence that issues taken up by the Congress will have an impact on different castes and communities.
A general secretary present at the meeting later said, “Rahul Gandhi’s confidence was not only high, it was infectious, too.”
Gandhi pointed out that while campaigning in minority-dominated areas, leaders should also talk about general issues.
“The reason is there is no such constituency which has 100% minority population. So, even in the crowd, there will be non-minority people in our rallies. They too, need to be catered to,” said a leader present in the meeting.
Sources added, Gandhi harped on the issue that the UPA has done good work and it will reap electoral benefit.
Rahul Gandhi accused the BSP government of corruption and poor governance.
“Nearly Rs 10,000 crore of National Rural Health Mission money was siphoned of by 2-3 ministers. Funds released by the Centre don’t reach the poor. Students are still awaiting scholarships and workers are not getting wages under MREGS.” he said.
Targeting the SP for its “impractical populism”, Gandhi said SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav was disconnected from the masses and deeply into populism to gain power.
He also took a dig at SP’s promise of free laptops to students. “In the last elections, Mulayam publicly criticised computers and English language,” he said.