A booster dose from Diggy to demoralised Congmen in UP

By Alka Pande

Lucknow: Lying low in a state devoid of any hope, the Congress in Uttar Pradesh was given a much needed morale booster dose by the party general secretary Digvijaya Singh.

"There is nothing to fear and nothing to be scared about. The Congress leadership has done no wrong. It is only a matter of attitude how we grasp and take forward the decisions taken by the central leadership," he said. Singh was speaking at the Pratinidhi Sammelan (Representatives’ Convention) of the party, which was held after a gap of one-and-half years.

This was the crux of a 15-minute crisp motivational speech delivered by Singh at the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee head office in Lucknow on 26 December. Known to have been putting comforts before politics, it was a change to see the senior leaders of the party as well as representatives from different parts of the state gathering at the head office on a chilly and foggy December morning.

The party’s morale is at an all-time low in the state after its poor performance in the assembly elections early this year and also due to the criticism heaped on it on issues like the defeat of Congress in Gujarat, Foreign Direct Investment, the cash subsidy programme, the recent mass protest over the Delhi gangrape and so on. There had been no major activity within the party since the Samajwadi Party government came to power in the state.

Singh was direct and candid in his address, in which he covered all the aforementioned issues and put them in a positive perspective for the party. Without mincing words he acknowledged that there was an atmosphere of disappointment. He admitted that despite people’s faith in the Congress, the party has failed in assuring the people of its capabilities to form the government.

The Congress’s vote percentage is on a constant rise in the state. It went up from four per cent in 2004 to nearly 12 percent in the 2009 parliamentary polls. However, the party workers’ morale is going southward, especially during the second term of the United Progressive Alliance, which remains mired in cases of corruption and policy paralysis.

The situation is even worse in Uttar Pradesh where the party is in a catch-22 situation. The regional outfits, namely the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, who are the direct rivals of Congress in the state, are extending support to the Congress-led alliance government at the national level.

"At the state level the Congress worker is perplexed whether to support these regional parties or oppose them. We have no clear mandate. There is lot of resentment within the state unit on the issue," confided a local leader to this correspondent.

However, Singh was in the state to clear all these doubts and put forward a clear mandate before the party worker.

"Do not waste your time in criticising how weak Congress has become. The party is not weak but it sometimes has to make compromises for the sake of the alliance. But that does not mean we are weak. We don’t have to be scared of anyone. We will not stay quiet on the wrong deeds of the alliance partners (he was referring to SP and BSP). Study the manifesto of SP and remind people about the promises which the government fails to fulfill. Do not go back from this convention with a heavy heart but go back with confidence and determination."

Very methodically, Singh pointed out the salient features of each scheme of the Congress, which have been facing flak from the Opposition – be it FDI or reservation in promotion or cash transfer. He was vocal even on Delhi gang rape case on which he blamed the media for distorting the issue.

"I feel sad why the Congress remained mum on the issue. The leaders should have come forward to condemn the role media played in worsening the situation. The media was acting as an investigator as well as the prosecutor and everything else," he said.

The party is also distributing booklets on all the flagship schemes of the UPA government.