Al­liance With SP Hits Rahul’s Pet Dalit Groom­ing Mis­sion

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics - Nidhi.Sharma@ times­

New Delhi: The Congress has spi­ralled into dam­age con­trol mode after a seat­shar­ing agree­ment with Sa­ma­jwadi Party has cast a shadow on Congress vice-pres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi’s pet pro­ject of de­vel­op­ing Dalit lead­er­ship. Un­der the two-year-old Lead­er­ship De­vel­op­ment Mis­sion, Congress had short­listed 265 Dalit lead­ers in 84 re­served con­stituen­cies through a metic­u­lous process of as­sign­ing tasks and gaug­ing the im­ple­men­ta­tion. How­ever, the seat-shar­ing al­liance with SP has left 27 re­served seats in Congress’ quota of 104 Assem­bly con­stituen­cies. Ac­cord­ing to sources, 20 can­di­dates cho­sen un­der Gandhi’s mis­sion have been given tick­ets. This has left out 250-odd Dalit lead­ers cul­ti­vated by the party over the years. Sens­ing trou­ble, Gandhi has de­puted trusted lieu­tenant K Raju and mis­sion in­charge in Ut­tar Pradesh Shashank Shukla to pacify all the dis­ap­pointed lead­ers who were not con­sid­ered. A source told ET, “Th­ese Dalit lead­ers are be­ing per­son­ally spo­ken to. They are be­ing told to re­main pa­tient. Ev­ery­body knew some of them would be dis­ap­point- ed even if Congress would have fought the elec­tions its own. Of the 265 lead­ers, only 84 would have been cho­sen. But this de­ci­sion (al­liance with SP) is a larger one and be­yond the con­trol of the state unit. So there should be no hard feel­ings.”

A large plat­form had been given to the Dalit lead­ers iden­ti­fied un­der the Lead­er­ship De­vel­op­ment Mis­sion. Each leader was given party’s iden­tity card, mul­ti­ple train­ing ses­sions and a metic­u­lous sched­ule to prove him­self as the “winnable” face. The dis­ap­pointed Dalit lead­ers are be­ing re­minded that the next big test is the par­lia­men­tary elec­tions in 2019. “We are telling them to be pa­tient. There would be lo­cal body elec­tions too. So there would be many op­por­tu­ni­ties for them,” said an­other leader.

Some state unit lead­ers point out that the back­lash within the cadre could be equally bad in the gen­eral seats. “In those seats the peo­ple eye­ing tick­ets have not even been given any plat­form. But they have been given very in­ten­sive jobs like iden­ti­fy­ing Congress fam­i­lies in each booth and sign­ing up Congress sup­port­ers at the vil­lage level.”

Congress leader K Raju

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