The Congress has had to eat humble pie in almost all the states that went to polls this time, except Manipur, but the party’s gallant and loyal foot-soldiers continue to hail Rahul Gandhi’s brilliant leadership.
Uttar Pradesh Congress president Rita Bahuguna, speaking to the media in Lucknow, said that the state leadership takes the blame for the Congress’s debacle and that this loss is not a reflection of Rahul Gandhi’s performance, who brilliantly led the Congress campaign in the state. She said she was “hugely disappointed” and that the onus for the defeat lay with the state unit.
“Avishvas Rahul par nahin hai (This distrust is not towards Rahul),” Joshi told reporters as the votes were counted for the staggered elections.
Gandhi, scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty that has ruled India for most of its 65 years of independence, had campaigned tirelessly to revive his centre-left party in a politically crucial state where it has not held power for 22 years.
The campaign, which thrust him into the rough and tumble of the state’s politics, where he even slept in villagers’ huts, was seen as a test of his fitness to take over from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after general elections due in 2014.
Instead, the leftist Samajwadi Party (SP) looked set to win the largest number of seats in Uttar Pradesh, a politically important state that with 200 million people has a larger population than Brazil.
Congress also looked set to lose in the state of Punjab but was leading the seat count in Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa.
“It has been a disaster for the Congress, it’s an even bigger disaster for Rahul Gandhi and the Gandhi family,” said political analyst Amulya Ganguli.
“They were banking on success in these elections, hoping to get at least four out of five states. It has gone exactly the opposite way. It shows that there is no charisma left in the Gandhi family.”