New Delhi: Communal polarization, fielding “outsiders” as candidates and a weak organisation led to the Congress rout in western Uttar Pradesh, several party leaders told General Secretary Jyotiraditya Scindia here on Tuesday.
The party’s Lok Sabha candidates, district Presidents, MLAs, former Ministers, ex-MPs and ex-MLAs of Saharanpur, Bijnor, Moradabad, Ghaziabad, Gautam Buddh Nagar, Aligarh, Nagina, Kairana, Bulandshahr and Meerut took part in the post-mortem with Scindia.
Scindia was in charge of western Uttar Pradesh for the Lok Sabha elections but the Congress drew a blank in the entire region. In the whole of Uttar Pradesh, only UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi won a seat for the Congress — in Rae Bareli.
A senior Congress leader who attended Tuesday’s meeting said it was called to discuss the Lok Sabha debacle in 10 western Uttar Pradesh seats close to the national capital.
The leader said Scindia met leaders from the 10 districts separately.
“The leaders pointed out how the BJP polarized Hindus and Muslims during the elections,” the leader said requesting anonymity.
District chiefs and party candidates apprised Scindia how the voters went away from the party after the Indian Air Force bombed a terrorist camp in Balakot in Pakistan on February 26, a development that fetched rich dividends for the BJP.
After the air strike, the BJP raked up the issue of nationalism and a strong leader, pulling away Congress votes.
The party leaders also blamed the weak organisation in several districts.
Scindia was told that the Congress lacked a strong set-up even at the block level in every district.
There was another complaint: “outsiders” were given ticket, ignoring old loyalists.
Those who attended the meeting included Meem Afzal, Naresh Saini, a Congress MLA from Behat in Saharanpur, Ghaziabad candidate Dolly Sharma and Bijnor candidate Naseemuddin Siddiqui.
This was Scindia’s first meeting with the party’s candidates after the Lok Sabha election disaster.
Scindia was in-charge of 39 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh. He will hold similar review meetings of the remaining 29 Lok Sabha seats on June 14 in Lucknow.
Congress General Secretary and in-charge for eastern Uttar Pradesh Priyanka Gandhi will hold a review meeting with party leaders in Rae Bareli during her two-day tour that began on Tuesday.
So sweeping was the Congress loss in Uttar Pradesh that party President Rahul Gandhi was beaten in Amethi, a supposed bastion, by BJP’s Smriti Irani by over 55,000 votes.