October 10, 2011

Why Rahul Gandhi not campaigning in Hisar

Cong on the hustings misses Rahul


Voters here looked for AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi and thought he would land up at the last moment to campaign for the beleaguered Congress in the crucial Hisar by-election. He did not turn up. The scion of the Gandhi-Nehru family preferred to go to Gopalgarh in Rajasthan which was rocked by communal clashes in recent times instead of being present at the campaign for the high-pitched by-election which could prove to be a turning point for the party ahead of a series of Assembly elections next year and the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

The voters here count only three top leaders in the Congress - party president Sonia Gandhi, Rahul and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. None of them have campaigned for the party or are expected on Tuesday, the last day of campaigning.

“Rahul going to Rajasthan and not coming here indicates his political preferences. No one wants to be associated with a losing cause. Even Rahul realises this,”
said a disgruntled Congress leader, who did not want to be quoted. The party workers here realise the importance of the by-election, the first which would test Anna Hazare’s call to vote against the Congress. Some of them, however, felt that the party should have done more to neutralise the threat of Anna by roping in the three-star campaigners and also Union Ministers. Sipping a sweet, milky tea in INLD district office, an office-bearer said that we only have two star campaigners - party candidate Ajay Chautala and his father Om Prakash Chautala and both are camping in the constituency ever since the election campaign started. In fact the entire Chautala clan, including Ajay’s brother and MLA Abhey and son Digvijay, are camping here.

BJP had a galaxy of leaders to campaign for their alliance partner HJC. This included Party chief Nitin Gadkari, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, cricketer turned commentator turned party MP Navjot Singh Sidhu, Haryana BJP in-charge Harsh Vardhan, small screen actress Smriti Malhotra, cricketer Chetan Chauhan and a host of State leaders.

The Congress campaign for party candidate Jai Prakash is being led by Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda who has been camping here for almost a fortnight now. AICC general secretary in-charge of the state B K Hariprasad remains the only senior leader to campaign. On Monday, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and film-star-turned MP Raj Babbar gave a helping hand to the Congress on the penultimate day of the campaign. Another AICC General Secretary Birender Singh only made a “guest appearance” and so did Union Minister Shelja, suggesting that it was only a half hearted effort on their part. If the Congress candidate wins, Hooda will walk away with the credit and this is what his detractors like Birender and Shelja do not want.

Team Anna is also in the fray, not to win the election but to ensure that the Congress candidate gets defeated by a large margin. While Arvind Kejriwal is riding a mini truck with a raised platform to show Anna Hazare’s message on a 32-inch TV screen, supporters wearing red T-shirts with India Against Corruption written on them, distributing pamphlets and CDs of Anna and Kejriwal speech to the people. They urged voters to re-distribute the CDs and wear the badge which said, “the candidate who does not support Jan Lokpal would not get my vote”

Kejriwal has said that had Rahul Gandhi wanted, the Jan Lokpal Bill would have been passed without a hitch, given his clout in the Congress. Many attending his meetings and clearly none of them are Congress supporters, questioned the absence of the Amethi MP from battleground Hisar.

“By campaigning and winning Hisar, Rahul could have shown his political mettle. An opportunity has been lost,” said a Team Anna supporter. He was perhaps not aware of the Bihar Assembly elections where an intensive campaign by Rahul saw the party returning with its poorest figures after 1947.


Rahul said...


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