“I am extremely hurt, disappointed and feel guilty...I am a loyal sepoy of Congress. I take full responsibility for whatever has happened,” Digvijaya Singh said after meeting Sonia Gandhi after the UP election results were declared. Digvijaya Singh blamed the “poor leadership in the state” for the debacle. In addition, he said, “We failed to convince the voters that we are in a position to defeat BSP. We could not convince the people of UP that Congress can replace the corrupt BSP and form the government. This is our biggest failure.”
No, that’s not the biggest failure of the Congress. The biggest failure IS Digvijaya Singh himself.
Digvijaya Singh is no newbie to politics, as Rahul Gandhi is. He contested and won the assembly elections for the first time in 1977. He was made minister of state, and later a cabinet minister, in Arjun Singh’s government in 1980. He left state politics when he was elected as a Member of Parliament in 1984 and 1991. In 1993, he became the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh and was re-elected for his second term as chief minister in 1998. His reign ended when the BJP won in the 2003 election — and the BJP continues to rule the state that Digvijaya Singh once lorded over.
So Digvijaya knows a thing or two about politics. Or he should. He should have known how the party was faring in UP before the election results were announced.
“These polls are not correct. Wait for the real results. We are sure to get 125-plus seats,” he said, when all the exit polls predicted the poor Congress performance three days ago.
On what basis did Singh believe that the party would get “125-plus” seats? On the basis of feedback he received from party officers in UP, one presumes. The same ‘poor leadership’ he refers to in his post-poll sob story.
Why was the party leadership in the state poor? Digvijaya, as Congress general secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh, should have seen to it that the party leadership in UP was competent. If the leadership in the state failed, Digvijaya, as the general secretary tasked with overseeing their performance, has been a bigger failure.
Consider the weapons that the Congress employed in their efforts to win the elections: corruption and lack of development. Since April 2011, thanks to Anna Hazare, no one with access to television is unaware of the scale of corruption at the centre and in the Congress party, beginning with Suresh Kalmadi and moving on to the 2G scam, the Adarsh scam, and so on. How on earth did Digvijaya Singh believe that UP voters would see the Congress as any less corrupt than the BSP? When it comes to development, how many citizens in Uttar Pradesh do not have friends and relatives in Congress-ruled states, notably in New Delhi and Maharashtra? A phone call (and who doesn’t have a mobile phone?) to such a contact about the state of ‘development’ would destroy the fairy tale of development in Congress-ruled states.
Digvijaya should certainly know that crowds at public rallies do not translate to votes at the elections. It was Rahul Gandhi’s job to campaign and to bring the crowds in, more in the role of a celebrity than anything else. It was Digvijaya Singh’s job, helped by party officers and other cadre, to convert these crowds into something tangible — votes and seats.
Getting crowds at rallies is the easy part of elections. Converting them into votes is the tough part — and Digvijaya failed at that.