The Telegraph
Thursday , May 3 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rahul gets the cold shoulder

Lucknow, May 2: Rahul Gandhi today wrapped up a series of post-election meetings on home turf Amethi, cold-shouldered by a powerful husband-and-wife team and rumblings of dissent ringing in his ears as the bitter aftertaste of defeat refused to go away.

The Congress general secretary, who reached Amethi on April 30 for his first trip to his parliamentary constituency since the party’s election rout in Uttar Pradesh, later left for Assam to meet relatives of those who died in Monday’s boat tragedy in the Brahmaputra.

Rahul had come to Amethi to review the performance of the party, which cut a sorry picture across the state but especially in the Gandhi pocket boroughs of Amethi and Rae Bareli where it won just two of 10 seats, five less than last time.

But in the three days he was in Amethi, Rahul could neither meet former MLA Amita Singh, nor her husband Sanjay Singh, the MP from neighbouring Sultanpur.

Amita, who lost this time, stayed away, while Singh is reportedly cut up with the central leadership and hasn’t been meeting senior leaders since the poll rout.

Sources said Amita privately blamed some party leaders for “sabotage”, though party workers in Amethi claim she and Singh were behind the defeat of other candidates.

At the review meetings, the sources said, ordinary workers voiced their grievances against both, alleging that they had not only been inaccessible to state leaders but also did not trust those at the grassroots.

Insiders said Singh did not campaign anywhere in the state except in his wife’s Assembly constituency, Amethi.

Singh had even issued a statement before the polls, opposing the party-led central government’s decision to allow foreign direct investment in retail.

Sources said Singh, who had been vociferous against “wrong ticket distribution”, was cut up with other state leaders. Rahul is believed to have sent word to the two leaders that he would like to meet them in Delhi and hear them out.

Once seen as loyal to the Nehru-Gandhi family, Singh had left the Congress in 1988 to join the Janata Dal and later the BJP in 1998. He had defeated the Congress’s Satish Sharma in Amethi to become a BJP MP in 1998, only to lose to Sonia Gandhi in 1999.

He rejoined the Congress in 2003 and got a ticket in 2009 from Sultanpur, where he won. Party veterans said he might be weighing his options again to quit the Congress before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, realising that victory might be tough.