UP politics and Congress’ hopes
THE HANS INDIA |
Jan 20,2019 , 03:45 AM IST
After the BSP and SP joined hands in Uttar Pradesh, cold-shouldering the Congress, the grand old party has declared an intent to contest all the 80 Parliamentary seats in the State. Whether it is bravado or brinkmanship will be known when poll dates draw closer.
Before the BSP and SP went public with their pact, senior Congressmen had hoped for Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav to see reason and offer them a respectable double-digit share.
In the event of that not happening, they talked of the option of setting up candidates in 30-odd seats that have a favourable demographic mix.
These seats could be ones with a fair sprinkling of forward-caste votes the BJP is hard put to woo with 10% quota and chants of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.
The Congress as a lone ranger, many in Opposition circles believe, could be a spanner in the BJP’s plan to effect a forward-caste consolidation against the BSP-SP, representing classes that were frontloaded in the quota system. They say the party leadership’s conscious bid to identify with the majority sentiment paid dividends in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.
In these States, the “emotive” blended well with the economic; the “kisan aur naujawan” slogan coined by the Left finding a forceful echo in the talking points of the Congress.
For these reasons, the more optimistic among party insiders talk in the same vein as the BJP. They rest their hope on the Congress’s pan-India presence — howsoever diminished or uneven — in the manner the saffron party depends on Modi’s drawing capacity as their leader.
Both arguments are predicated on the fact that the 2019 vote is for forming a government at the Centre.
That makes proponents of a triangular battle in Uttar Pradesh recall the 2009 outcome that saw the Congress bag 21 seats to the SP’s 23 and the BSP’s 20, leaving the Bharatiya Janata Party with just 10. Given the sorry state of the Congress organisation and lack of a distinctive social base, such wishes seem like horses with fools in saddles.
But, to be fair, the party has surprised surveyors, soothsayers and astrologers alike in Assembly elections starting with the one in Gujarat in December 2017. The Opposition’s Uttar Pradesh script, as it is read now, could change in the coming weeks. For the Congress has been left out, not counted
out, particularly with the BSP-SP alliance leaving Amethi and Rae Bareli for Rahul and Sonia Gandhi.
- Ravinder Reddy, Nellore, AP