UP Congress leaders fear desertions
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi's roadshows in UP may have been a great hit, but state party leaders aren't exactly walking about with a swagger.india Updated: Apr 03, 2004 14:07 IST
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi's roadshows in UP may have been a great hit, but state party leaders aren't exactly walking about with a swagger. On the contrary, there is scepticism, if not a sense of doom, in the party here over its election prospects. The reason: the failure so far in stitching up an alliance.
Several senior leaders fear large-scale desertions from the party on the eve of the elections in case the party fails to clinch an alliance with the BSP.
"Our rivals are already busy roping in support from all sections. Failure to strike a deal with the BSP will trigger desertions and one won't be surprised if they include old-timers," said a senior party leader. The exodus is expected to be more towards the SP than the BJP.
The party, which failed to win a single seat in the 1998 Lok Sabha elections, managed to get 10 in the 1999 polls. But that was not because of the party's image or popularity. Its candidates were strong, whether it was Begum Noor Bano in Rampur, Ratna Singh in Pratapgarh or Sujan Singh Bundela in Jhansi. The situation is the same this time around.
The prevailing scepticism is essentially on account of two reasons: first, the party lacks state-level charismatic leaders and winnable candidates who can translate public response into votes. Second is the party's failure to reconstruct its vote bank.
The few seats where the party can hope to win can be counted on fingertips. The constituencies are Varanasi, Deoria, Padrauana, Gorakhpur, Maharajganj, Ghaziabad, Aligarh, Amethi, Rampur, Pratapgarh and Farukhabad. Here too the candidates will have to go the extra mile to emerge victorious.
So common sense would have dictated that the Congress have a seat-sharing agreement with a heavyweight party. But differences among leaders over whom to ally with, has delayed a decision. The high command's statements that it is ready for a tie-up with anyone are seen only as an attempt to hoodwink the Muslim community, which wants unity among secular parties to avoid a division in anti-BJP votes.
After having made genuine efforts for an alliance, Sonia does not want to be accused of playing the spoilsport.
Though a section of the Congress is still advocating an alliance with the Samajwadi Party, most favour the BSP. And despite Mayawati's categorical 'no', they have not given up hope.