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Congress, the last hope for poll rejects in UP

By Renu Mittal in New Delhi
March 20, 2009 23:37 IST
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A desperate Congress in Uttar Pradesh is willing to become the last refuge of leaders who have knocked on every door, been denied entry and have then in sheer frustration tried the Congress route and lo and behold, open sesame.

One such tale is of Ramesh Tomar, a four-time Bharatiya Janata Party MP who joined the Congress on Friday with much fanfare with Congress Legislature Party leader Pramod Tewari welcoming him into the party.

In his speech made in Parliament soon after the demolition of the Babri Masjid, an exultant Tomar had justified the demolition in glowing terms and termed it a victory for the forces of Hindutva.

How the Congress expects to change the mind-set of a long term BJP-RSSwallah is a mystery to most partymen, who are looking at Digvijaya Singh and company to show them the way it can be done.

Tomar was dismayed when BJP President Rajnath Singh decided to contest from Ghaziabad, his home constituency. He then zeroed in on next door Gautam Budh Nagar as the place to be. The seat was promised to Dr Mahesh Sharma, who owns the Kailash hospital in Noida, but Tomar in a series of public meetings tried to get Rajput support to put pressure on the leadership. That too did not work.

Tomar then approached the Bahujan Samaj Party and its leader Mayawati through its treasurer Gupta, but here too there was no success with Surinder Nagar already contesting on the BSP ticket.

The man then went to Samajwadi Party through Amar Singh. Here too he drew a blank with the SP first promising the seat to Narender Bhatti and then changing the candidate.

Having exhausted all other options, Tomar then approached the Congress and met with instant success. He is eyeing the same constituency from where long-time Congress loyalist and former PCC President Arun Kumar Singh 'Munna' is a hopeful, having worked here for the last one year.

Another doctor and owner of Prakash Hospital in Noida, Dr B S Chauhan, who has strong RSS links, almost got the Congress ticket from Gautam Budh Nagar but stiff opposition from Congesss workers led to Dr Chauhan's name being dropped.

Congress leaders say that while Tomar would send the wrong signal to the minorities in UP, it may also impact neighbouring constituencies in UP and Delhi since Tomar is seen to be an out and out Hindutva advocate.

Partymen state that in the last assembly elections more than 50 per cent of the Congress candidates were those who were inducted from outside the party and after the polls almost all of them left the Congress. A senior leader wanted to know whether the party has done any stocktaking of these candidates who had joined the congress on the eve of elections, as is the case with Tomar.

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Renu Mittal in New Delhi