Rahul Gandhi flops in Uttar Pradesh

NEW DELHI Tue Mar 6, 2012 11:48am IST

1 of 3. Election officials wait to start the counting of ballots at a counting centre in Allahabad March 6, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Jitendra Prakash

Related Topics

Stocks

   

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The Congress party trailed in fourth place as vote counting neared its end in Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday, a bitter election blow to Rahul Gandhi who had staked his political future on reviving his party's fortunes in the state.

Gandhi, scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty that has ruled India for most of its 65 years of independence, had campaigned tirelessly to revive his centre-left party in a politically crucial state where it has not held power for 22 years.

The campaign, which thrust him into the rough and tumble of the state's politics, where he even slept in villagers' huts, was seen as a test of his fitness to take over from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after general elections due in 2014.

Instead, the leftist Samajwadi Party (SP) looked set to win the largest number of seats in Uttar Pradesh, a politically important state that with 200 million people has a larger population than Brazil.

Congress also looked set to lose in the state of Punjab but was leading the seat count in Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa.

"It has been a disaster for the Congress, it's an even bigger disaster for Rahul Gandhi and the Gandhi family," said political analyst Amulya Ganguli.

"They were banking on success in these elections, hoping to get at least four out of five states. It has gone exactly the opposite way. It shows that there is no charisma left in the Gandhi family."

ROADBLOCK TO REFORM

The party's setbacks in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab could make it harder for Singh's already weakened coalition government to pursue reforms that could shore up the country's economic growth, which has slipped below 7 percent.

Battered by a string of corruption scandals and inflation, Singh last year was forced to shelve a flagship reform to open the supermarket sector to foreign direct investment (FDI) by retailers such as Wal-Mart (WMT.N), in the face of political protests.

"Following the state assembly election results, the unpopular reforms might be postponed to some extent like FDI in retail and the deregulation of diesel prices," said N.R. Bhanumurthy, an economist at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, a Delhi-based think tank.

"It breaks the confidence of the government," he said.

With partial results in for 386 of the 403 assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh, Congress and a regional ally were leading in just 38, according to the Election Commission.

Congress, which heads the central coalition government, won only 22 of the state's seats in the last poll.

This could mean a return to power for Mulayam Singh Yadav, a former wrestler who first governed Uttar Pradesh from 1989, when Rahul's father, Rajiv, was still alive. However, Yadav's party looked set to fall short of an absolute majority, and so it may seek a coalition with Congress to rule the state.

Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi defended Gandhi's electioneering despite the disappointing results.

"Not even Rahul Gandhi's worst enemies, political or otherwise, suggest that his leadership was lacking. He was outstanding," he said. "He's gone to every nook and cranny, he's provided the spirit, the euphoria, the leadership - if it doesn't translate, then it doesn't translate."

(Writing by John Chalmers; Reporting by Annie Banerji, Arup Roychoudhury, Manoj Kumar and Matthias Williams; Editing by Robert Birsel)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (1)
Rishi909 wrote:
This guy and his family have been using the Gandhi last name for a long time. They are considered as crooks in India, Looted the country for the past 65 years and recently in the auction of 2G spectrum licenses.

Mar 06, 2012 8:59pm IST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Popularity Poll

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Record Highs

Record Highs

Nifty touches record high; software stocks gain.  Full Article 

New Adviser

New Adviser

Arvind Subramanian likely to be chief econ adviser.  Full Article 

Pricing Mechanism

Pricing Mechanism

Govt sets up a four-member panel to re-examine gas pricing.  Full Article 

Royalty Rates

Royalty Rates

India to hike iron ore royalty, miners may struggle to pass on extra cost.  Full Article 

Diesel Deregulation

Diesel Deregulation

Oil ministry to seek Cabinet nod on diesel deregulation - sources  Full Article 

Commodities

Commodities

Gold near two-month low; set for weekly drop on interest rate fears  Full Article 

Reuters Exclusive

Reuters Exclusive

Apple iPhone 6 screen snag leaves supply chain scrambling   Full Article 

Helping Regional Mills

Helping Regional Mills

Govt raises sugar import duty to 25 pct from 15 pct.  Full Article 

Curbing Risks

Curbing Risks

RBI to lower ceiling on bank loans to a single corporate group.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage