Even as state Congress chief Raj Babbar offered his resignation to party vice-president Rahul Gandhi after meeting him on Wednesday in Delhi, state party leaders sought to downplay their loss in the Assembly election when looking at their direct opposition to BJP candidates on 47 seats. The party won seven out of 114 seats where it contested, out of which it had an alliance with Samajwadi Party for 105. In addition to this, in Gauriganj Assembly constituency of Amethi where SP candidate Rakesh Pratap Singh won, Congress’ Mohd Naeem stood at second place. In Vishwanathganj, won by Rakesh Kumar Verma of Apna Dal, Congress candidate Sanjay Pandey stood at second place.
The Congress stood second in 49 out of 114 seats. While the party was initially given 105 seats by SP, it had fielded candidates for 9 additional seats largely in Rae Bareli and Amethi, where it decided to contest all seats at the last moment.
In 2012, the party had contested on 355 seats in Uttar Pradesh and won 28. It had stood second on 32 seats then. Performance was seen to be better mainly in the second and fourth phases of the election, where Congress stood second on as many as 11 seats in regions such as Rae Bareli, Pratapgarh, Allahabad and Bundelkhand, where elections were held in the fourth phase. In the second phase, Congress won two seats — Behat and Saharanpur — and stood second on 12 seats against BJP.
However, with a few exceptions, BJP candidates had a large victory margin of over 10,000 votes. Though Congress is yet to do a comprehensive post poll analysis, leaders and workers feel the party’s failure to campaign by itself on waiving farmer loans was among the reasons for its defeat.
“We believe our previous campaign about loan waiver was able to attract farmers, but after the alliance, our leaders forgot about that and it became a passing reference in speeches. The BJP circulated the message that this can be done by the Centre, and the Prime Minister too spoke about waiving loans,” said a leader at the state party headquarters in Lucknow.
Meanwhile, in his seven-month tenure as state president, Raj Babbar did not form a fresh executive committee or hold a meeting with officebearers. Babbar was made the state Congress president on July 12 last year, replacing Nirmal Khatri. He was asked to lead a one-month “27 saal UP behal” yatra from August onwards. Rahul’s “Kisan Yatra” began from September onwards. Sources close to Babbar said he had also not been in favour of the alliance with Samajwadi Party initially.