By Pradeep Kapoor
LUCKNOW: Congress Party is facing its biggest dilemma in Uttar Pradesh on whether to revive organisation and boost morale of party leaders and workers to face 2024 Lok Sabha polls solo or leave the space for Samajwadi Party and its alliance.
Much significance is being attached to recent statements of Samajwadi Party national President Akhilesh Yadav who said in Kolkata that his party would keep distance from BJP as well as Congress. Again in a separate statement Akhilesh Said that Congress should decide about its role while regional parties will be able to defeat BJP in their regions. Earlier during his visit to Amethi, which is considered to be stronghold of Gandhi family, Akhilesh Yadav said that his alliance will contest all the 80 Lok Sabha seats in UP.
This statement is being interpreted that Samajwadi Party is not willing to leave any seat for Congress. Earlier there was an understanding that Samajwadi Party never fielded any candidate against Mrs Sonia Gandhi in Rae Bareli and Rahul Gandhi in Amethi. Similarly Congress also reciprocated by not putting any candidate against Mulayam Singh Yadav, Akhilesh Yadav and Dimple Yadav.
For several decades Congress ruled the state and won maximum number of seats in Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha in UP. But Congress is out of power in UP since 1989 and the representation in Lok Sabha was restricted to only two seats with only two percent vote share of party in 2022 assembly elections.
Congress lost its traditional vote bank consisting of brahmins, harijans and Muslims to other political parties due to mishandling of crucial Ayodhya issue. While brahmins went to BJP and muslims were won over by Mulayam Singh, Harijans shifted to BSP led by Kansiram and Mayawati. So in the absence any vote bank Congress continued to decline and worst ever performance was witnessed in 2019.Lok Sabha polls and then in 2021 assembly polls
The politics of alliance also could not help Congress in the elections. Way back in 1996 Congress entered into alliance with BSP during the regime of PV Narsimha Rao. BSP asked for 300 seats while 125 we’re left for Congress. After the elections BSP national President Mayawati dissolved the alliance accusing Congress for its failure to shift it’s vote to BSP candidates.
Congress entered into alliance with Samajwadi Party for 2017 assembly polls and slogan was coined “UP ko ye saath pasand hai”. Akhilesh Yadav and Rahul Gandhi addressed joint meetings in several constituencies. But the alliance miserably failed and Akhilesh Yadav was voted out of power.
What is more disturbing for the Congress is failure of Priyanka Gandhi card. When Priyanka Gandhi was made AICC general secretary as incharge of UP the people were expecting miracle and turn around in Congress fortune. There is no doubt the public meetings of Priyanka Gandhi were great success so we’re the road shows but she could not convert the crowd into votes for party candidates.
After the defeat in 2022 assembly polls, Priyanka Gandhi was so upset that she visited Lucknow only once which made it clear that there was a realisation in the party that it would be very difficult to revive the organisation and boost the morale of workers.
Traditional Congress leaders and workers are upset with the fact that party high command brought former MP Ghanshyam Khaabri from BSP and appointed him as party president who could not enthuse party leaders.
Only ray of hope for Congress is Rahul Gandhi who during his Bharat Jodo Yatra attracted huge crowd in Western UP especially Muslims. If Rahul Gandhi is able to spend more than 20 days in UP during his second phase of the Yatra than only one may see little bit upswing in the fortune of the grand old party.
Now Congress Party has to decide whether to work hard to revive the fortunes of the party in Uttar Pradesh or leave the space for Samajwadi Party and it’s alliance and bargain for only one or two seats for members of Gandhi family. (IPA Service)