Priyanka factor and UP polls

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Perfection is the child of time.

  • Joseph Hall

It is clearly evident that two developments in Uttar Pradesh have unnerved BJP. Firstly, the resurgence of Congress Party due to Priyanka Gandhi Vadra factor and secondly SP-BSP-RLD alliance in the state which has the highest number of seats in Lok Sabha. It was a subject of debate whether Priyanka’s ‘formal’ entry into politics would drastically improve the party’s electoral fortunes in UP in the general election. It was argued that in electoral politics, a combination of organisation, ground-level equations, caste/community dynamics, and charisma is needed for success, and the Congress seems to be lacking in all of these in UP except the last. In politics, charisma does work, but not without proper organisation and social engineering. There is nothing new about politics for Priyanka. She has been born into a political environment. It is expected that she may be able to revive the Congress in Uttar Pradesh in the long run, if she continues dedicatedly in politics. Already, Priyanka factor has started attracting Brahmins, young non-Yadav OBCs, urban and rural youth and poor farmers in eastern UP. It is clear that Priyanka has to grapple with various issues pertaining to the state as well as the party in general.

There is no denying in Uttar Pradesh, where the Congress was a dominance force decades ago, the influence of Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati had led to the Congress shrinking in the state. Priyanka has been in charge of 41 Lok Sabha seats in UP. Congress didn’t, put up candidate in Fatehpur Sikri only. Significantly enough during Modi wave in 2014, average vote share of Congress in these seats was 10 per cent. The party has appointed Jyotiraditya Scindia as in-charge of western UP to help her. Scindia, no doubt, is an articulate leader with an impressive personality. The big question is will the Congress be able to address the country’s largest state on the strength of these two faces?

Congress is now aiming to bring back its traditional UP votes for which it has made rainbow coalition and important leaders belonging to different caste have been inducted in the party recently and given tickets as well. Her arrival has motivated and galvanized cadres in UP and beyond, especially in states where the Congress retains political primacy. For that reason, old timers foresee her role expanding beyond what’s assigned to her for starters. It is already seen that Priyanka has been able to create an impression among those young and urban voters particularly of Uttar Pradesh who are unhappy with BJP due to lack of jobs, GST, demonetisation, and farm crisis. During recent Mission Ganga Yatra on boat from Prayag Raj to Varanasi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra succeeded in direct connect with those who were living on the banks of river. However, May 23 results would tell up if she is able to damage political calculations of SP, BSP and BJP.

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