Sultanpur (Uttar Pradesh), May 16 (IANS) The electoral verdict in Uttar Pradesh, where the Congress won 22 Lok Sabha seats defying all expectations, is a vote against the politics of religion and caste, party general secretary Rahul Gandhi said Saturday.
'People of Uttar Pradesh have rejected the politics of religion and the politics of caste,' he said, in apparent reference to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), all three of which suffered serious reverses in the battle for the state's 80 Lok Sabha seats.
'(People) have voted for development. That is what the Congress is going to try deliver over the next three years and certainly beyond that.'
Gandhi, who seemed to have taken the victory in his stride, added that the country needed an organisation of young people. 'That is what we are going to build over the next three or five years.'
Gandhi had actively campaigned in Uttar Pradesh, where the party had won only nine seats in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections. Proving pollsters wrong, the Congress went on to win 22 seats to be the second large party in the state after the Samajwadi Party's 23-seat tally.
'This election is a testimony to the fact that this country believes in unification, in clean politics, in honest politics,' he said.
Asked about his future plans, he answered: 'I have got a job to do. It is to help the youth of this country enter politics and to change the ways the politics work.'
Expanding his idea of India, Gandhi said that India had progressed 'very quickly' over the past five years and the Congress party believed that 'this progress belongs to everybody. It does not belong to a small group of people. It belongs to the large mass of the people of this country.
'We are not going to let this country develop with huge parts of the country left behind. We owe it to the poor people who have given us everything, who work every day of their lives. The Congress party is going to stand by them.'
Gandhi also paid his tributes to vanquished foe, BJP leader L.K. Advani.
'In elections there are always losers and winners. Our opponents have fought a hard election. Advanji in particular, looking at the number of miles he travelled, fought a strong election.'
He said that while he fundamentally differed from Advani 'in the secular direction of the country', he respected the BJP leader who 'is a senior person, eighty plus'.
Gandhi argued that the credit for the Congress victory in Uttar Pradesh cannot be credited to him or to any individual.
'Team work is important. The credit goes to the people of Uttar Pradesh, who have said that we are sick and tired of this kind of politics. They want us to bring change. Our challenge has begun today.'
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