Fared badly due to UPA's disconnect with people: Youth Cong chief

New Delhi: Rajeev Satav, 40, is one of the two sitting MLAs who had become a MP from Maharashtra to score a win in the recently concluded parliamentary polls. President of the Indian Youth Congress, the quiet, unassuming Satav reveals a sharp political mind during his interview with Firstpost. 

Satav rose through the ranks by becoming the Maharashtra Youth Congress president in 2008 piping the likes of Amit Deshmukh (son of late Vilasrao Deshmkh) and Nitesh Rane (son of Narayan Rane) to the coveted post. He went on to win Kalamanuri seat in Marathwada region by a margin on 10,000 votes in 2009 assembly elections. The seat was won by the party after a gap of 14 years in Shiv Sena BJP stronghold.

He has consistently been rewarded for his hard work by being appointed as President of Indian Youth Congress (IYC) by Rahul Gandhi in February 2010. At that time, it was considered the most important position after Rahul Gandhi himself. He has assisted Rahul Gandhi in bringing about internal democracy in the IYC through these years. In a freewheeling interview, he speaks out on the Congress debacle among other issues.

Q: Did you expect such disastrous results. What are the reasons?

A: No one expected it to be so bad. BJP was able to successfully polarise voters in North India. But there is another major reason why we fared badly according to me. This is the result of UPA -2 and its “disconnect” with the people of this country. UPA did a lot of good work, but we couldn’t take the achievements of the government to people.

Fared badly due to UPAs disconnect with people: Youth Cong chief

Rajeev Satav during an interaction with party members in this 2013 video. Screenshot from YouTube.

Q: Are you blaming the UPA government?

A: Not the government, but its ministers. There is no other reason and we need to understand that. They didn’t go among the people and that’s the main reason why we lost. Look what happened to most of our ministers, they are all ex-MP’s now.

Q: Didn’t the party see this coming? What was the role of Indian Youth Congress then?

A: We did what we could, and gave it our best. But the leadership in the government didn’t do enough. They did not communicate with the masses. We have limited resources and we performed to the best of our ability, but it’s the job of the government and its ministers to carry the message to the masses in an effective manner and that was missing.

Q: Any ministers in particular are you trying to blame?

A: No one in particular, you can see the performance of our ministers in the elections and you will have the answer. Had they been responsive to the mood of the people, they would be sitting in Parliament. It’s not about blaming anyone, we need to realise we failed to work on corrective measures.

Q: What about Congress leader Milind Deora, and other leaders reacting in public against the leadership?

A: Milindji is my senior and I have full respect for him. But he is also one of the advisors of Rahulji. He has always got full support from Rahulji, especially for his social outreach campaigns. Whatever he had to say, he should have said it in party forum, after all he was an important member in the Union Council of Ministers.

Q: Does Milind have a point when he talks about unelected people in the party?

A: Why did it take 10 years for our leaders to realise this disconnect. The same people didn’t say anything when we won in 2009. How can anyone blame Rahul Gandhi or his team for the government’s performance? He had no role in running the government and he tried his best to push the party’s agenda towards the common man. As I said, Milindji is himself is one of Rahulji’s advisors.

Q: What is your take on unelected members?

A: Its collective responsibility and there is major churning happening within the party. We will take stock and bounce back sooner than most people think. Party has to accept defeat with grace and work towards providing solutions to problems faced rather than point fingers at each other.

Q: What is Rahul Gandhi’s frame of mind, did you interact with him?

A: He seems unfazed and has taken this defeat in his stride. He told me not to worry about the results, we have to keep trying. If we made a mistake, we must correct them. He has already asked us to get on with our work.

Q: What went wrong in Maharashtra?

A: Things are definitely not right in Maharashtra plus we carry the baggage of being in power for 15 years in the state. Bickering between the NCP and the Congress is the main reason. How can we fight others when we are busy fighting amongst ourselves? We need better coordination between alliance partners and it’s more crucial in the coming days as we have an election in a few months.

Q: What are the party’s plans to deal with this crushing defeat and any strategy being worked upon?

A: We could not match BJP’s media campaign. They also had a better social media strategy, and we have to work in this direction. They (BJP) sell dreams more convincingly than we could do the same about UPA’s achievements. That’s the sad part. We need to reach out to our workers at the booth level and then work our way upwards right from the start.

Q: What about you and your role in the party from now?

A: I will discharge my duties as an MP. I will spend the next five years with my people in Hingoli and work with them for betterment of society. I will continue my work for the party in any capacity or role the party deems fit for me. I have no expectations, I believe in doing my work to the best of my limited ability.

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Updated Date: May 27, 2014 17:08:54 IST

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