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Grim Portents

Saturday 26 May 2007, by DUTT*Avinash

The Congress, the BJP and the SP need to think out survival strategies, reports Avinash Dutt

Congress’ plan to project rahul gandhi in up failed spectacularly The BJP and the Congress have emerged as the biggest losers in the tectonic upheaval in Uttar Pradesh. Both the national parties have been decimated in the state that sends 80 members to the Lok Sabha. Both had staked all to regain lost ground and both ended up with even greater losses.

Congress strategists saw UP as an opportunity to showcase Rahul Gandhi as the dynamic young leader who will lead the party to triumph in the next general elections. The plan has failed spectacularly.

But it is not just about Rahul. A former Congress chief minister despairs for the party’s future. “The party has no chance of regaining the Centre unless it is revived in UP and Bihar, at least. We don’t stand much chance in Andhra Pradesh, we are losing Maharashtra, we are nowhere in West Bengal, same for Tamil Nadu, and Bihar is already a basket case. And on top of it all, the Rahul charisma is not working the way needed,” he said.

For Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the result spells bad news for reforms and the government will be under tremendous pressure to be seen doing everything for the rural and agriculture sector.

Arguably, the BJP is worse off. With UP beyond reach, and the party already playing second fiddle in Bihar, it doesn’t have much to bank upon in the next general elections. Party president Rajnath Singh and his mentors in the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) are in the dock. The Sangh had pitched in in a big way, with 200 of its pracharaks camped in the state. From mobilising support from affiliated organisations like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, to strategising media campaigns, to the selection of candidates, the pracharaks had a decisive say in everything.

We got carried away by our propaganda. Most of those who matter in the UP BJP are upper caste Hindus. So it is wrong to say that the BJP paid the price of ignoring Brahmins. It also means that only OBCs, who were actually sidelined, voted for the party,” said a BJP general secretary. This is a clear indicator that the war between the upper castes and the OBCs in the BJP will aggravate.

Shailendra Pandey Though the SP lost 46 mlas, the number of votes cast for the party actually went up by one percent compared to the 2002 elections. “The results should clear the misnomer that the BJP and the Congress are national parties. In India, there are only regional parties and multi-regional parties,” says sp general secretary Shahid Siddiqui. He asserted that SP’s gain has actually been more than one percent. “I am not crying foul. It is well known that the Election Commission too went out of the way to ensure that Dalits vote.” His views on the results: “Manuwadi chad gaye hathi par aur Mayawati bani mahawat (Manuwadis have hopped on the elephant and Mayawati is playing mahout).”

See online : Tehelka

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