Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat, who is fighting in the upcoming state Assembly by-election, believes that Narendra Modi factor will not work this time around and people will vote for his government to bring in stability in the hill state.
In an interview to PTI, Rawat blamed anti-incumbency and failure to counter Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)'s campaign against the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) as reasons for Congress' drubbing in Lok Sabha polls and its inability to win from any of the five constituencies in Uttarakhand, ruled by him since February this year. Taking responsibility of the debacle, Rawat said he got "less time" to prepare even though he maintained that excuses should not be given for such defeats.
The Uttarakhand Assembly by-poll scheduled for July 21 is significant for Rawat's future as it is mandatory for him to make his entry into the state Assembly within six months of being sworn in. He will be contesting from Dharchula seat.
His remarks have come at a time when a top panel of the party led by AK Antony is going into the reasons of the defeat of Congress in the general elections and holding one to one meeting with leaders from the states.
Rawat, who served as Union Minister in the past and is one of senior Congress leaders, vociferously countered contentions that Rahul Gandhi is to be blamed for the party's debacle and even justified the decision of neither Sonia nor Rahul becoming the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha and said they should spend time with people instead of the Parliament to strengthen the party.
Replying to questions about the growing criticism of Rahul Gandhi's leadership in the party, Rawat shot back, "The same Rahul factor had worked for us in 2009 and brought us in power. It connected youths to Congress on a large scale then."
He added "This time after running a government for 10 years, there was a different atmosphere. People wanted a change. They wanted to have a change of taste. There were also some other factors like price hike due to which the voters of Congress were very disturbed. We could not stop the spiral of price. Our negatives were highlighted in a big way by the BJP and we could not counter it as an organisation. Rahul Gandhi led us in such a period. It was a challenging time."
Rawat said that even the thought that Congress should look beyond the leadership of Gandhis is not practical, adding "we should not forget that Gandhis have provided us the leadership in most difficult times."
Asked about the criticism over Rahul Gandhi not agreeing to become party's Leader of House in Lok Sabha, Rawat said, "Rahul Gandhi is leading from the front irrespective of whether he accepted the post of Leader of House or not. In Lok Sabha polls, he was already leading and addressed more than 200 rallies. It is a politically wise decision that he did not accept the leader of House post from the party and spared himself for the public.
"As much Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi meet the public, it will be better for the Congress. It is a wise decision on their part not to take up LoP post in Parliament and make a Dalit face and a Muslim face Mallikarjun Kharge and Ghulam Nabi Azad Parliamentary leaders LoPs in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha," he said.