Lucknow, June 6: The Congress has hit rock bottom in Allahabad ' its cradle and home to its first family.
The party could gather only 660 votes in Allahabad West, one of the three Assembly constituencies in the city where Jawaharlal Nehru was born, in Thursday’s bypoll.
The winner ' Samajwadi Party’s Mohammad Ashraf, brother of the MP from Phulpur which was once Nehru’s seat ' won over 90,000 votes.
Even the Independent candidate did better than the Congress’s new face, Sanjay Srivastava, polling 1,140 votes.
Srivastava, whose tally is the worst ever by a Congress candidate in Allahabad, has not stepped out of his house since the results came out yesterday. The city’s party office was closed for most of the day.
But the party’s spokesperson in Lucknow blamed criminalisation of politics and abuse of official government machinery. Ashraf is an accused in the murder of BSP MLA Raju Pal, whose death necessitated the bypoll. Pal’s widow Puja came second with over 77,000 votes.
Allahabad was once the cradle of the Congress movement ' between 1887 and 1892, crucial All India Congress Committee sessions were held in the city under the leadership of Madan Mohan Malviya.
The country’s first Prime Minister spent his early years at Anand Bhavan, the Nehru home which was dedicated to the nation by his daughter Indira Gandhi in 1970 and is now a museum. The Congress doesn’t hold any of the city’s three seats and only one of the 11 in the entire district.
In Thursday’s bypoll, the party’s vote share in Allahabad West dipped to 0.38 per cent. Even a year ago, the Congress had polled 5,000 votes here.
“This is certainly a shame,” said Manindra Sharma, an octogenarian Congress worker in the city.
Not just Allahabad, which has not elected a Congress MLA after 1989, the party’s candidates lost their deposits in all the other three constituencies in the state that voted last week ' Varanasi North, Haserbazar, Khairagarh.
Some party workers blame the rout on the flight of Brahmin voters to the Bahujan Samaj Party, others on the mafia deployed by the ruling party’s nominee. But spokesperson Akhilesh Pratap Singh admitted that party leaders are guilty of idling. “The organisation needs a hunter to make them move,” he said.
State unit president Salman Khursheed, whose job it is to get the party leaders moving, was away in Delhi where the high command is busy in celebrating the victory in Goa.