Monday, 30th October 2017

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Amethi workers take blame for poll defeat

Rahul visits constituency after defeat

By Piyush Srivastava in Amethi
  • Published 11.07.19, 1:28 AM
  • Updated 11.07.19, 2:18 AM
  • 2 mins read
Rahul interacts with party workers in Amethi on Monday (PTI)

Many village and block-level Congress workers in Amethi blamed themselves for Rahul Gandhi’s defeat from the constituency this election and apologised to him on Wednesday, promising there would be no repeats.

Their admissions came at an election review meeting that Rahul held during his first visit to Amethi since the defeat.

Scores of jeeps and cars brought over 1,000 Congress workers and local leaders to the meeting in driving rain. The workers got drenched as they got off the vehicles and scurried into the building, the Nirmala Institute of Women’s Education and Technology in the Gauriganj area. The local leaders had aides holding umbrellas over their heads.

“While speaking at the meeting, many of us held ourselves responsible for Rahul’s defeat. We should have worked harder,” a Congress worker told The Telegraph.

“Even Rahul said it was a defeat for the workers of Amethi. He, however, added that he was a party worker too.”

The worker, who declined to be named, said Rahul and sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra — the party general secretary in charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh where Amethi is located — had snubbed the constituency workers when they visited Delhi after the May 23 election results.

“We had gone to meet Rahul and Priyanka in Delhi. While Rahul didn’t meet us, Priyanka came to the hall where we were waiting, spoke to a leader from Delhi and left without even looking at us. It was very painful,” he said.

He added in a distraught manner: “We know that the Nehru-Gandhi family is unhappy with us. But they have pardoned the killers of Rajiv Gandhi; our crime is less grievous than theirs.”

While the workers blamed themselves at the meeting, the local leaders attributed the defeat to the BJP’s money power.

“The BJP spent crores to woo the voters; this is how Smirti Irani won,” a Congress worker quoted a local leader as saying.

Mohammad Israr, a local Congress committee member known better as “Thakur”, told this newspaper after the meeting that Rahul had lost “because of the overconfidence of the local leaders on whom he has always depended, and because of mismanagement by his core team”.

“Ask me and I will tell you why Rahul lost,” a police inspector shouted a few metres from the meeting venue while this correspondent was returning.

“The BJP bought off all the Lok Sabha, Assembly and block-level leaders of the Congress. The Congress workers remained with the party but the leaders who attended today’s meeting had ditched Rahul for a few lakh rupees. I saw this with my own eyes,” the officer volunteered.

“Don’t write my name, else I would be punished. But this is the truth,” he added before returning to his job of managing the traffic.

Sita Ram Sahu, who was selling vegetables barely 100 metres from the meeting venue, aired the view held by most ordinary people in Amethi. He blamed Rahul’s “middlemen”.

“He (Rahul) has done a lot for the constituency. He has given us the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum Technology, Footwear Design and Development Institute, Rajiv Gandhi National Aviation University and many other institutes. But he will lose again if he doesn’t stop the thekedari pratha (system of functioning through middlemen),” Sahu said.

“He delegates power to his close aides and forgets us. These aides are the middlemen. They rarely meet people and behave as if they themselves are Rahul Gandhi. Rahul needs to interact directly with us, else he should be ready to lose again in 2024.”

After her 2014 defeat to Rahul, Irani had kept visiting the constituency and interacting with its people. “She has already visited the constituency thrice after winning,” Sahu said.