KANPUR: Rahul Gandhi, the Nehru-Gandhi scion and the star campaigner of the Congress had taken Kanpur by storm, mainly the state capital’s Muslim pockets, on February 19, when he addressed a huge meeting on the grounds of the historic Halim Degree College at Chamanganj.
As soon as the two choppers carrying the young Gandhi and his entourage were spotted in the air, the Muslim youths, including the girls, went into a tizzy, cheering wildly. And despite the safety concerns, Rahul stepped out of his security cordon and mingled freely with the bubbling crowd.The sheer size and the mood of the gathering was good enough to convince the Congress managers that the party could well be realistically looking at the prospect of ending its decades-long political wilderness in the crucial state.
However, when this correspondent visited the Halim Degree College on Tuesday, the Rahul euphoria seemed to have worn off as the majority of the Muslims were seen nursing their old grudges against the Congress. “Why has the Congress not apologised or regretted for assassinating the Babri masjid and the subsequent communal carnage that claimed the lives of thousands of innocent persons in the city,” lamented Abdul Barqaad Nazmi, a former convenor of the Babri Masjid Action Committee.
Some 15 years back when the then Prime Minister Narsimha Rao visited Kanpur, almost the entire Muslim community had boycotted the meeting of Rao at the historic Phoolbagh ground to register its protest.
Since the demolition of the disputed structure in Ayodhya in 1992, the Muslims have largely boycotted the Congress.
Here, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav is is immensely popular, because it was during his time as CM that decisive action was taken to rein in the karsevaks marching menacingly towards the “Babri Masjid” on October 30, 1991. Although he hardly finds the time to visit these parts.