Will AICC general secretary’s ‘aggressive’ politics in Lakhimpur help Congress in UP polls and get the party votes?


New Delhi: AICC General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra may have succeeded in boosting the morale of party workers during her visit to Uttar Pradesh, particularly Lakhimpur Kheri, but the question remains whether all this political exercise will help the Congress to increase its votes in the largest state of Hindi belt.

There is no denying that Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s detention in Sitapur while proceeding towards Lakhimpur Kheri galvanized the party rank and file. She also tried to send out a message to the workers by picking up a broom in Dalit hamlet. But all this is not going to help Congress in terms of increase in vote share in the upcoming UP assembly polls. If at all, Congress manages to increase its vote share by just one per cent, then it will help the BJP as the grand old party will damage SP’s vote bank.

Congress may gain Sikh votes in Punjab. Similarly, the party may gain some more votes of farmers in the terai region of Uttarakhand. The Congress has leaders and significant faces in Punjab and Uttarakhand. But there is a dearth of leaders in UP. Every time Priyanka Gandhi Vadra returns to Delhi from UP, news about one leader or the other leaving the Congress comes. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is finding it difficult to boost confidence among the party leaders despite all efforts. BJP is trying to show its fight with Congress, although the grand old party is weaker than SP. If Congress consolidates anywhere, it is at the cost of votes of SP and BSP. If anti-establishment votes get divided, it will help BJP in the election. No doubt, Lakhimpur Kheri violence and farmers’ agitation have dented the BJP’s image. But CM Yogi Adityanath’s efforts to contain farmers’ agitation in Lakhimpur Kheri by taking Rakesh Tikait into confidence came as a solace to the saffron party. However, the issue of law and order continues to rake up by the Opposition. SP and BSP were not as aggressive as Congress during the Lakhimpur episode. Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi also came forward to help his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and met the families of the victims. Congress successfully tried to steal a march over other parties. But the Lakhimpur violence also exposed disunity in the Opposition. The leaders who attended a meeting convened by Sonia Gandhi on 20 August were seen visiting Lakhimpur Kheri separately.

TMC was seen exploring the political ground in UP. Prashant Kishor, who is close to TMC leadership, embarrassed the Congress by questioning Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s visit to Lakhimpur. Till recently, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra were making all efforts for Kishor’s entry into Congress.

It was Prashant Kishor who was instrumental in denting Congress in Goa. Congress also criticized Kishor for that. TMC’s strategy is that it wants to be a replacement of the Congress in opposition. Mamata Banerjee’s party will not join hands with Congress in UP.

Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra are now faced with the challenge to improve the party’s position. Regional parties in UP are averse to an alliance with Congress. With leaders leaving the party and organisation looking weak, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra looks to be all alone in UP. State PCC chief Ajay Kumar Lallu has failed to make any impact.

The Gandhis seem to have taken the UP battle lightly. Rahul Gandhi left UP after his defeat. Interim party chief Sonia Gandhi is unable to visit the state due to her old age. All that Priyanka Gandhi Vadra did was part time politics in UP. The party’s strategy to bet on new faces could not succeed. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra does not want herself to be projected as CM candidate as there is no surety for Congress’ victory. At the same time, the party does not have any important leaders who it could rely on.

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra could be in the limelight just for a day by tweeting her statements or any video critical of the government. Observers believe that if Priyanka Gandhi Vadra continues to pursue the aggressive political course like this, then the Congress can expect some increase in its vote share.