The congress failure to convert the popular response of Rahul Gandhi received during his road shows into votes has brought into focus the party’s poor organisational structure at the grassroots level.
A large turnout was witnessed during Rahul Gandhi’s road shows and the Amethi MP addressed nearly 156 public meetings during his election tours. Congress president Sonia Gandhi addressed 23 public meetings and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addressed five public meetings.
This raised hopes of Congressmen who began expecting better performance by the party this time. When poll results began trickling in, a sense of disappointment gripped the Congress following the party’s failure to perform up to expectations in Assembly election.
What went wrong is the obvious question before the Congressmen.
“The Congress did not have adequate infrastructure to support Rahul’s efforts,” said a Congress functionary. The party announced names of its candidates at the last minute while the BSP did the same well in advance, he said adding that nomination papers of three candidates were even rejected.
The Congressmen are however posing a brave front.
“We are not feeling crushed,” said the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC) president Salman Khurshid. “We had two main objectives — to eliminate the Samajwadi Party and deny BJP access to power,” he said adding that the SP and the BJP have already suffered a jolt and Congress is bound to emerge stronger in the days to come.
Whether Rahul’s magic failed to work? "No" said Khurshid adding that Rahul never talked about any magic. He had made it clear that he was there for a long haul,” said Khurshid adding that Rahul’s campaign gave the Congress strength to fight vigorously. “After all, the work that remained unaccomplished in the past 15 years, could not be completed in just over a month,” he added.
As one-third of the Congress’ total seats have come only from Rae Bareli and Amethi, the efforts of Priyanka Vadra who focused in the two districts are being lauded. No comparison should be drawn between Priyanka and Rahul, said Khurshid adding that Priyanka had herself stated that she was only campaigning as representative of her brother Rahul and mother Sonia Gandhi.
“It’s BSP’s day. The BSP will now have to perform up to people’s expectations,” he said adding, “The Congress will have to begin preparations afresh. We will look forward towards the next Lok Sabha election.”
The Congress’ tally has even failed to match the party’s performance in the last Vidhan Sabha and the Lok Sabha elections. “The Congress had won 25 seats in the 2002 Vidhan Sabha poll and led on 44 Assembly segments in the Lok Sabha poll.
The party failed to match its past performance as issues like law and order only worked in Assembly election this time,” said another party functionary. “People wanted an alternative. So they voted for the party that was better prepared,” he said adding that the party’s improved performance in Rae Bareli and Amethi this time has helped the party reaching the figure of 22 Assembly seats.
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