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Wednesday, 21 September 2011

A generation has not seen Congress rule in UP-Bihar

Can you guess the dilemma of the Congress candidates in Uttar Pradesh nowadays? Not Anna Hazare. Not his campaign against corruption. Instead, it’s the disturbing realisation that a generation has grown up in this politically crucial state without experiencing a Congress rule.

The last when the Congress was in power in Uttar Pradesh was in the late 1980’s. Those born even in mid 1980’s have no clue how the Congress rule was like – better or worse than the political regimes they have grown up with.

Little wonder they mention names of Mayawati, Mulayam Singh Yadav every time discussion on future chief minister crops up. Even the BJP rule they don’t seem to remember as the party changed the leadership thrice – Kalyan Singh, Ram Prakash Gupta and Rajnath Singh. Yes, they do remember the divisive politics of mandal and mandir though.

And even as chief minister Mayawati is busy despatching letters to the prime minister demanding quota for minorities, economically backward upper castes and now Jats, quota in admissions in educational institutions as well as in jobs appeared to be the major concern of youth during campus adda that HT had organised across UP and Uttarakhand. Our idea was primarily to gauge the mood of the youth, how far it is gearing up to cast its vote and what are the poll issues that concern them.

Imagine Congress leaders expect that generation to vote for the party that had not only messed up Anna’s anti-corruption movement but is also favouring extension of quota on religious grounds. We thought quota was meant for socially and economically backward classes irrespective of the faith they follow.

The scenario has been no different in neighbouring Bihar.

I am sure this is not going to be music to Congress ears. With elections not very far off, the Congress will have to do some miracle to break the 20-odd year long vanvas. There is growing feeling that the party trump card Rahul Gandhi can’t ride them to victory. Some concerned voices from the Congress are already suggesting an extensive campaign by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, in whom people find the political acumen of her grandmother Indira Gandhi besides the looks. To believe that there was an undercurrent in its favour as people were fed up with the ‘misrule’ of regional parties would be living in fool’s paradise.

A Congress leader in Agra, planning to contest election from an urban seat, confided the other day, “What should we do? People who know us are polite. But they do convey their anger over the soaring prices while reminding us about the scams tumbling out of Congress cupboards.”

The fact is, Anna is not merely haunting the Congress leaders, all other parties stand scared. At a dinner meet recently, politicians virtually rained abuses on Anna while insisting that caste alone would be the driving force in the coming elections. Then why worry?

As the election scenario perks up in the states heading for polls in early 2012, the picture in Uttar Pradesh continues to be hazy, more so about the Congress prospects.


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