LUCKNOW: Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who was made in-charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, did her job but the party and its workers could not rise to the occasion, the party's state unit chief Raj Babbar said on Monday.
Disappointed with the results that gave the Congress just one seat of 80 in the state and a nationwide tally of 52, Babbar said the party's poor showing at the hustings had pained party president Rahul Gandhi.
Rahul Gandhi lost from his family bastion Amethi, which voted in BJP's Smriti Irani to the Lok Sabha this time, but won from Wayanad in Kerala.
On why Priyanka Gandhi did not have the desired impact for the party, the actor-turned-politician said party workers and local leaders failed to rise to the occasion.
"She did her job. But party workers, local leaders, candidates and the organisation could not accumulate the (electoral) benefits from it. Rahul ji worked so hard and Priyanka ji worked with such a high degree of enthusiasm," Babbar told PTI in his first interview after the election results.
"We (party workers, local leaders and candidates) were unable to prove ourselves and rise to the occasion," Babbar said.
Rahul Gandhi, he said, had done a lot for Amethi and considered the people his family. "He never viewed it (Amethi) as his constituency. Now, family members have given such a verdict," the UP Congress chief said.
"I am 100 per cent sure that despite becoming an MP (from Wayanad), Rahul Gandhi must be pained as must be the people of Amethi," he said, expressing his concern that a person who considered Amethi as his family and gave an identity to the place was not allowed to emerge victorious in the polls.
Asked about the future course of action, the 66-year-old Congress leader said Uttar Pradesh cannot be analysed in a single line.
"You have to take steps after a lot of deliberations (on various aspects) and strengthen the organisation," he remarked. The lone victory for the party came from Rae Bareli where UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi retained the seat in the party bastion.
The BJP won 62 seats in the state, the SP-BSP combine 15 and the Apna Dal two.
Refusing to give any one particular factor behind the party's poll drubbing, Babbar said, "First, we must accept our defeat and acknowledge the victory of the winner. Having said so, I cannot sit alone and deliberate upon the possible reasons for the defeat. Everyone has to sit together.
"I believe there is no point in putting the blame (of defeat) on others, instead we should ponder as to how 52 people from our party were able to emerge victorious," he said.
The UP Congress chief said he would like to engage with the party's winning candidates and seek to know what they did among the people, their plus points and what the party did in their respective constituencies.
Babbar lost his election from the Fatehpur Sikri Lok Sabha seat despite opting for it (after being initially named as party candidate from Moradabad).
"The main reason for opting for Fatehpur Sikri was that people there never asked my religion, caste or community.
"They accepted me the way I was. This was an incentive for me. Apart from this, I also identify myself with that place," he said.
The Congress changed the seat earlier allotted to Babbar from Moradabad to Fatehpur Sikri, apparently in a bid to make the contest easier for the party leader.
Babbar was elected from Agra Lok Sabha in 1999 and 2004. However, following delimitation in 2008, the Lok Sabha seat was reserved for Scheduled Castes.
In the 2009 Lok Sabha election, he lost from Fatehpur Sikri to BSP's Seema Upadhyay by a margin of 9,936 votes.
But he got re-elected to the Lok Sabha from Firozabad in a by-election held the same year. He is currently a Rajya Sabha member.