Priyanka’s charm won’t help Congress win 

Priyanka’s charm won’t help Congress win 
Highlights

Days after taking over as the Congress general secretary for east Uttar Pradesh, Priyanka Gandhi hit the ground with an enthusiastic roadshow in Lucknow UP, which sends the maximum number of MPs 80 to the Lok Sabha was elusive for the Congress which managed to win just two seats in the 2014 parliamentary elections

Days after taking over as the Congress general secretary for east Uttar Pradesh, Priyanka Gandhi hit the ground with an enthusiastic roadshow in Lucknow. UP, which sends the maximum number of MPs (80) to the Lok Sabha was elusive for the Congress which managed to win just two seats in the 2014 parliamentary elections.

The all-important question is: Can Priyanka reverse the party’s fortunes in UP, and that too virtually overnight? Undoubtedly, she is charismatic and has a striking resemblance to Indira Gandhi; rejuvenated party workers are even comparing her to Goddess Durga. However, her star power may not be enough to overcome the party’s organisational weaknesses in Uttar Pradesh.

The Congress is banking heavily on charming ‘outsiders’ to counter the ruling BJP and the newly forged SP-BSP alliance. Royal scion Jyotiraditya Scindia is holding the charge of western UP, while State unit chief and former Agra MP Raj Babbar continues to be regarded as a film star-turned-politician rather than a grassroots leader. The party can’t afford to side-line leaders such as former Union Minister Jitin Prasada and nine-time MLA Pramod Tiwari, who have pockets of influence within a politically significant community that the Congress is eyeing.

The BJP had conquered UP in 2014 as well as 2017 on the crest of the Modi wave, which now seems to be a thing of the past. Getting the caste arithmetic right holds the key to poll success. Reclaiming the Brahmin vote bank is central to the Congress’ plans but winning over OBC and Dalit voters looks improbable.

Up against formidable rivals, the party should resist the traditional temptation of putting all its eggs in the dynasty basket. Strengthening and empowering the State cadre can go a long way in helping the Congress regain ground.

Raj Mohan Rao Kurrela, Vijayawada, AP

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