Visiting Uttar Pradesh for the first time after Congress' debacle in the recent Assembly polls, Rahul Gandhi was today flooded with complaints that groupism, poor candidate selection and neglect of grassroot workers were mainly responsible.
The AICC general secretary held two closed door meetings on the first day of this three-day visit after his party suffered reverses in March even in the areas considered as the traditional strongholds of Congress (Amethi and Rae Bareli).
Braving severe heat, Gandhi, who himself had led the campaign, reviewed the party's showing in Tiloi assembly segment (won by Congress) and Salon which the party lost, at two separate meetings.
It was at the second meeting at Salon where the workers were more vocal complaining as to how their voice is not being heard and that only a "few yes men" were dominating the scene, according to party leaders who attended the meeting.
The Congress leader, whose sister Priyanka had solely dedicated herself for the ten assembly seats in Amethi and Rae Bareli campaigning extensively for days, was also told that it was only during the elections that she comes here, they said.
Of these ten seats, the party had managed only two seats in Amethi, drawing a blank in Rae Bareli. In the last elections the party had bagged seven seats here.
Asking the workers not to be disheartened and to put behind the reverses, Rahul set the agenda for the future asking them to concentrate on the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
Rahul told the meetings that 2014 is knocking at our doors and that the party should go into it with fresh preparations and a new thinking.
He was also told by the workers that the leadership was also not receptive and it was avoiding them and therefore should also take some share of the blame, according to those present at the meeting. It was also mentioned that workers were finding it difficult to gain access to Rahul to which he said they are free to meet him any time.
As the main concerns of the people remained water, power, roads, unemployment and law and order, the Congress leader told the workers they were subjects concerning the state government and so he had worked hard for a Congress government but the effort failed to get desired results.
Rahul told the workers that he will do whatever possible for further strengthening the Congress in UP.
He also sought to keep the workers in good spirits saying they are the backbone of the party and all their problems would be resolved and they would get due respect.
He warned that those neglecting the workers would be punished and groupism would not be tolerated.
The workers, who attended the meetings, said they have been asked to move out to villages and apprise the common people about the welfare schemes of the central government.
Some workers alleged that their applications were being thrown in the dustbin and that "dalals" were ruling the roost in the party and workers were not being heard.
According to those present at the meeting, Rahul appeared to be in a serious mood amid indications there could be changes in the party setup in the state.
Rahul will tomorrow meet workers in Amethi constituency at Munshiganj guest house and workers of Gauriganj at Rajiv Gandhi Science College and on the last day of his visit on May 2, he would review party's performance with Jagdishpur constituency workers.
Though Rahul had led the party from the front, the Congress could manage only 38 seats going to the polls in alliance with the RLD.
The Samajwadi Party, which stormed back to power, bagged 224 seats pushing ruling BSP to the second spot which got 80 seats. BJP garnered 47 seats.