Congress rule in UP polls doubtful
With Congress out of the power for two decades in the state, Congress base has shifted to BJP, reports Saroj Nagi.india Updated: Dec 26, 2006 22:39 IST
Two events are likely to have a direct impact on the Congress’ morale and performance in the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls. The first is the effect of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s bid to polarise the atmosphere in the state - an attempt that is likely to serve Samajwadi Party’s objective by ensuring that the Muslim vote remains with Mulayam Singh Yadav and does not shift to Sonia Gandhi’s party.
The second is the Congress’ own performance in Punjab and Uttaranchal which are likely to go for assembly elections before UP. According to a UP leader, if the Congress returns to power in these states - as it did in Assam - it would help change the "defeatist" mindset of the UP Congressman who hasn’t seen the party win since 1985, bring about a change in perception of the voter who views the Congress as a straggler after the SP, Bahujan Samaj Party and the BJP and even affect the election of a new president and vice president some time in the middle of the year.
With the Congress out of the power for over two decades in the state, Congress’ traditional upper caste-Muslim-Dalit base has shifted to the BJP. The SP and the BSP, its supporters have turned to other parties and its organisation has turned decrepit.
The disarray in the BJP camp had kindled hopes in the Congress that the upper castes may return to it. Party leaders have long held the view that if one section of its traditional voter comes back to signal the revival of the party, the other sections would follow. The BJP’s decision to revert to its Hindutva agenda is intended to prevent this.
Congress workers have pegged their hopes on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Amethi MP Rahul Gandhi. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s emphasis on a "fair share" for Muslims would be exploited to whittle at the SP’s Muslim base and his call for a change of regime in Lucknow that focuses on development and youths used to hit not only at Mulayam but also at the BJP’s "divisive" politics.
As the party’s star campaigner, Sonia’s charisma is expected to galvanise the cadres and voters. Rahul has not yet hit the streets, but he has been interacting with the eight zonal in charges for UP, district and assembly level party workers and going through the lists of aspirants for a party nomination for the state polls.
More out of compulsion than choice, the Congress intends to contest the UP polls on its own, leaving about two dozen-odd of the 403 assembly seats for potential tie-ups with smaller formations like the Apna Dal or VP Singh-backed Jan Morcha. "But it is becoming difficult for us to find candidates for these 370-380 seats," said a UP leader.