Samajwadi sweep Congress begs to differ

By: | Updated: 27 Feb 2012 08:48 PM

New Delhi: The
Congress on Monday expressed its exasperation over the growing perception
that the Samajwadi Party had already won the race and was poised to lead
the next government in Uttar Pradesh.

The perception may be true.
But the the Congress contested it with full force to protect its Muslim
support base in western Uttar Pradesh, which goes to the polls today and
where Mulayam Singh Yadav’s party is supposed to be weak.

Congress fears that the prospect of a Samajwadi-led government will compel
Muslims to root for Mulayam even in this region where Mayawati’s BSP is
otherwise the main contender.

The Congress leadership feels that
its candidates have an edge over those of the BSP, which carries a huge
burden of anti-incumbency in comparison to the Samajwadi that has been
projected to be on a comeback trail. This assumption encouraged Congress
leaders to dispute the popular theory of the BSP’s decimation and argue
that the projections about the Samajwadi’s unprecedented success were
“exaggerated” and even “orchestrated”.

Party general
secretary Mohan Prakash, who is part of the election management in Uttar
Pradesh, said: “The pro-establishment class in the state which is not
comfortable with the rise of the Congress is responsible for this
propaganda. These entrenched forces would prefer status quo which has seen
governments led by the SP, BSP and the BJP in the last two decades.”

Also Read: Sixth phase polling begins in UP's Jat land
to identify this class, Prakash said: “This is a new breed which has
grown after the exit of the Congress system from Uttar Pradesh and, hence,
they tend to believe their vested interests would be safe in the SP, BSP
and BJP governments. They have been part of the loot for 22 years. These
people may be from among politicians, bureaucrats, contractors, criminals
and even the media.”

He said even BJP leaders were spreading
the “SP-sweep theory” to prevent Muslims from tilting towards the
Congress. To water down this perception, Prakash reiterated what other
leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, have been saying: that the Congress
would, under no circumstances, support a Samajwadi-led government. Unlike
Union coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal he did not articulate the
possibility of President’s rule but asserted that the Congress would sit
in the opposition if it did not get a majority.

Congress leaders
associated with the election process may have tried their best to sustain
the momentum set by Rahul, but the problem lies within the party as many
are cynical about the outcome and give credence to the “SP-sweep”
theory. These leaders insist that the Congress-RLD alliance was not
working on the ground and it would be difficult for the party to win a
respectable number of seats.

There is so much confusion within
the Congress ranks that the range of projection varies wildly — from 30
seats to 100 — and important leaders admit it would be difficult to win
too many, though the vote percentage could be very high.

leaders say the last two phases are crucial and the party’s performance
could be disastrous if it fails to win a good number of seats in the six
divisions of Meerut, Saharanpur, Moradabad, Agra, Bareilly and Aligarh. It
is here that Rahul altered his go-alone principle to align with Ajit
Singh’s RLD and invested heavily in Muslim leaders like Rasheed Masood
and Salim Sherwani.

Initial reports about Jats overwhelmingly
disapproving of Ajit’s alliance with the Congress rattled party leaders
but now they feel reassured after much damage-control over the past few
weeks. Rahul has been addressing at least four rallies daily in this
region and the entire party is praying his efforts bear some fruit.

-The Telegraph, Calcutta

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First Published: 27 Feb 2012 08:48 PM
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