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Priyanka's entry into UP politics: A masterstroke against the mahagathbandhan
Congress party's official launch of their new general secretary, the new found Congress icon Priyanka Gandhi through a road-show at Lucknow on February 11 was a grand success. Thousands of people participated in the road-show which made all the Congress leaders and workers very inspired and motivated.

Some Congress leaders have even started predicting that the Congress will sweep UP in the upcoming 2019 general election. Priyanka Gandhi will continue to stay in Lucknow and will take meetings of one hour each for every Parliamentary seat in next three days.

But the question is does Priyanka have the mantle to give the Congress a huge boost in UP? It must be remembered that in 2009 the UPA had got just 26 seats in UP out of which the Congress had won 21 seats. Thus, the Congress workers are energised to at least do a repeat of 2009. Is launching Priyanka Gandhi a master stroke? I will deal with this in the latter part of the article but before that let me discuss the real strategy behind pushing Priyanka.

Although the Congress is desperately trying to become the leader of the opposition camp, it has been practically marginalised by the probable allies. In UP, the SP+BSP+RLD alliance left out the Congress. In Bengal the TMC is not going to ally with the Congress. In Andhra there will be no alliance between the TDP and the Congress. In Bihar there's still dispute with seat allocation and most likely the RJD and the Congress will contest separately like they did in the previous Parliamentary election. In Tamil Nadu although MK Stalin has declared Rahul Gandhi as the prime ministerial candidate but he is unlikely to give the Congress more than 4-5 seats. In the Hindi heartland (apart from UP), where there's direct contest between the BJP and the Congress, the BJP remains ahead. Thus, the Congress isn't finding any ground to increase its tally significantly. That has made them desperate for doing something new.

Generally the people of Uttar Pradesh have an inclination towards the Gandhi family. In India cult following is a general trend like Priyanka's resemblance with Indira Gandhi. Rahul Gandhi has no cult personality nor is he considered a serious/intelligent leader. That's why Priyanka Gandhi has made an entry into active politics. It must also be noted that the Vadra baggage will not affect her because corruption rarely matters in elections in India.

However, Priyanka can't match Narendra Modi's cult personality. Narendra Modi is also very popular among the youth. I don't think she can attract more upper caste votes though she might attract the Dalits and the Muslims especially the older generation.

It means that instead of damaging the BJP's prospects, Priyanka will damage the mahagathbandhan a lot. Frankly speaking, the Congress has another option of forming an alliance with the PSP, a breakaway part of the SP. Rahul Gandhi too has asserted that the Congress will play on the front foot. As a long-time observer I can say with guarantee that the Congress will take away around 5-7% of vote share of the mahagathbandhan. It means that the BJP is going to retain all its seats in UP in the upcoming 2019 general election.

The idea is very clear. The Congress seeks to be part of the mahagathbandhan with around 14-16 seats. Many sources are now whispering that the SP chief Akhilesh Yadav is trying to work out some sort of an arrangement with the Congress for decimating the BJP. The Congress too is willing to talk with the SP. But the problem is BSP's Mayawati who is very strict on her number of seats and might not agree to give away her share. Thus, the issue remains very complicated.

Akhilesh Yadav may agree to part with 10-15 seats for the Congress from his party's share. But that could be further damaging because SP leaders will rebel and may join Shiv Pal Yadav's PSP. There might be some efforts to convince Mayawati to spare some seats from her share.

So, I would say Priyanka's entry is definitely a master stroke by the Congress but not against the BJP or Narendra Modi at the moment.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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