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Priyanka Gandhi’s 3-Point ‘Spoiler Strategy’ to Regain Congress’ Lost Value in Uttar Pradesh

The party’s strategy is to concentrate on a few seats it thinks are winnable, seats like Unnao, Kanpur, Fatehpur Sikri, Barabanki, Baharaich, Kushinagar ,Dharhaura, Rai Bareli and Amethi.

Badri Narayan |

Updated:May 5, 2019, 3:36 PM IST
Priyanka Gandhi’s 3-Point ‘Spoiler Strategy’ to Regain Congress’ Lost Value in Uttar Pradesh
Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra greets supporters during an election campaign for Lok Sabha polls, in Gazipur village of Fatehpur. (Image: PTI)

The Congress is going to make 2019 parliamentary election in Uttar Pradesh interesting. Its presence is creating several side-effects for the performance of the two big players – the Bharatiya Janata Party and the SP-BSP-RLD mahagathbandhan.

While on the outside, it may look like a minor player in the state, it will cause a far reaching impact on the results of this election.

The party’s strategy is to concentrate on a few seats it thinks are winnable, seats like Unnao, Kanpur, Fatehpur Sikri, Barabanki, Baharaich, Kushinagar ,Dharhaura, Rai Bareli and Amethi.

On the other hand, it is ensuring the fight is triangular on more than a dozen seats in Uttar Pradesh. It is also cutting the votes of BJP and the mahagatbandhan on many seats where it knows that its chances of winning are next to none.

Recently, Congress general secretary and in charge of eastern UP, Priyanka Gandhi, also revealed that the party aims to cut the votes of BJP on many seats.

She explained that the party has given tickets to candidates in a way such that they cut the votes of BJP on many seats.

She revealed that Congress aims to win wherever its candidates are strong, and in places where the candidates are weak, they are hurting the BJP effectively.

But that it is only half the story. The other side of it is that Congress candidates are cutting votes of mahagathbandhan’s candidates too on many seats in Uttar Pradesh.

In fact this strategy of the Congress is similar to the one used by the Bahujan Samaj Party when it was still starting out. The strategy was based on the key slogan given by Kanshiram in the decade of 90s - pehle haarenge, phir harayenge (first we will face defeat and after that we defeat others).

This was based on the tactic of cutting votes of the dominant political forces and acquire value for the party.

In various analysis, it appears that Congress is harming the BJP on more than 40 seats in Uttar Pradesh and the gathbandhan on around 20 seats. At least on eight seats, there seems to be an obvious pact between the Congress and gathbandhan.

The Congress has not fielded any candidates on six seats - Mainpuri, Ferozabad, Azamgarh, Kannauj, Muzaffarnagar and Bagpat. The gathbandhan has also not fielded candidates against Sonia Gandhi in Rae Bareli and Rahul Gandhi in Amethi.

The Congress has given tickets to 17 candidates who come from a forward caste, which is considered a strong base for the BJP. Similarly, it has also given tickets to 11 non-OBC castes such as Kurmi, Koeri, Lodh and Shakya who voted for the BJP in last few elections.

On a few seats, it has also fielded non-jatav candidates who may make a dent in the BJP’s vote share.

So, the Congress has planned its strategy based on caste arithmetic on these seats to cut the votes of BJP and prepare a background for the saffron party’s defeat.

But the Congress is also harming the gathbandhan on around 10 seats where it has given a ticket to Muslims (7) and Jatavs (3).

The grammar of the Congress strategy in this election is to concentrate on a few seats where it sees the possibility of its victory.

Secondly, the Congress is also trying to acquire value in this electoral politics by cutting votes of the opposition.

Thirdly, it has also planned its strategy to make a dent in the communities who are considered BJP and gathbandhan’s base, and hence, expand its own base vote by mixing many communities.

So to sum it up, the Congress strategy is to ensure its victory on a few seats in UP and emerge as the cause for defeat of dominant political parties on various seats. It also aims to increase it vote percent in this election, so that it may prove its revival in Uttar Pradesh.

The party is also working on a strategy to build its organizational structure – increase cadre, build units from the booth level to the block level - and prepare the party to return to power in the UP state assembly election in 2022.

The Congress politics may seem negative to a few political analysts at the moment, but in the long-run, its strategy is to acquire lost value in electoral politics and build the party. By contesting with strong candidates in terms of caste equation, money and muscle power, it is banking on workers, leaders and cadres who may work for the party in 2022 UP assembly election.

(Author is a senior journalist. Views are personal)

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