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What were Cong leaders doing, asks Mulayam

IF POLL preparedness of political parties for Vidhan Sabha elections were to be assessed now the Congress? poor show in the Zila Panchayat chairmen?s elections should come as an eye- opener for the party leaders in Uttar Pradesh.

india Updated: Jan 08, 2006 01:30 IST

IF POLL preparedness of political parties for Vidhan Sabha elections were to be assessed now the Congress’ poor show in the Zila Panchayat chairmen’s elections should come as an eye- opener for the party leaders in Uttar Pradesh.

The Congress has failed to win the most prestigious albeit the only seat where the party was officially contesting Zila Panchayat president’s election. Rae Bareli’s poor show assumes significance not only because it is home district of Congress president Sonia Gandhi but also because the Congress had reached a poll understanding with the Bahujan Samaj Party to win the seat.

If the Congress was groping in the dark to find an answer to its poor performance the best possible reply has come from none else but Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav. “Sonia Gandhi may not be having time for such small elections. But what were other Congress leaders doing,” asked the chief minister.

As per statistics the Congress had support 30 (19 Congress and 11 BSP) out of 52 voters. So where did it fail? Where were other party leaders? Why none of them bothered to camp or focus in the Congress president’s constituency? Does it reflect on poor poll management of the Congress? The party would have to ponder on all such issues before it could consider itself fit to face the coming Vidhan Sabha elections.

Congress leaders blame the failure on misuse of official machinery. “The Chief Minister and District Magistrate fought the election for the Samajwadi Party,” said a senior Congress functionary. His assertions may get support from local Congressmen who also allege that money and muscle power was used in the Zila Panchayat elections. Others, however, do not buy such arguments and say if the Bahujan Samaj Party candidate could win Sultanpur why the Congress failed in Rae Bareli.

Outcome of the Lucknow Zila Panchayat chairman’s post where the BSP won right under the nose of the government has also become a point of discussion among Congressmen. “A single BSP MLA ensured victory in Lucknow,” said another party functionary asking why Congress leaders failed to take sufficient care of Sonia Gandhi’s constituency to ensure victory of the party candidate there.

Senior Congress leaders could have easily countered influence of Rae Bareli ABCD MLA Akhilesh Singh who got himself transferred from jail to hospital to manage victory for the ruling party’s candidate, he said adding victory of a Congress supported candidate had definitely brought some solace to Congressmen.

Significantly, Congressmen had been banking on a possible poll pact with the Bahujan Samaj Party to bolster its performance in the coming Vidhan Sabha polls.

Under such circumstances the poll outcome should come as an eye-opener for the party leaders. It should also be treated as a warning signal to those who were yet to tighten their seat belts hoping that the Congress would have a smooth take-off in the coming polls if in deal with the BSP.

Observers feel that the Congress may have to rope in senior party stalwarts to learn some lessons on poll management. Is the party high command listening?

First Published: Jan 08, 2006 01:30 IST