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Bundelkhand to Raebareli: Can Congress Save Alliance in Phase 4 Triangular Fight?

As elections in Uttar Pradesh heads to Bundelkhand‎ and districts of Raebareli, Pratapgarh and Allahabad, it's a different story for the Congress’s alliance with Samajwadi party. Unlike the previous phases, it will now be on the Congress now to save grace for the ambitious alliance.

Pranshu Mishra | CNN-News18

Updated:February 21, 2017, 3:15 PM IST
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Bundelkhand to Raebareli: Can Congress Save Alliance in Phase 4 Triangular Fight?
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi during a joint press conference in Lucknow. (File Photo: PTI)
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Lucknow: As elections in Uttar Pradesh heads to Bundelkhand‎ and districts of Raebareli, Pratapgarh and Allahabad, it's a different story for the Congress’s alliance with Samajwadi party. Unlike the previous phases, it will now be on the Congress to save grace for the ambitious alliance.

Can the alliance continue its dominance in the region where BSP is a strong player and BJP has emerged as a formidable contender on almost every seat going to polls on February 23rd? A lot depends on the Congress.‎

This can well be judged from the fact that out of 53 constituencies going to polls, Congress is contesting almost half of them. Barring five seats of conflict between the alliance partners, the Congress is contesting 20 of the seats.

Getting such a sizable chunk of seats, the strategy is clear that in the region, especially Bundelkhand, Akhilesh Yadav's hopes of retaining the Chief Minister post depends a lot on Congress's performance.

Apart from Raebareli from where Congress president Sonia Gandhi is an MP, the party has big leaders like Pramod Tiwari in Pratapgarh, Anugrah Narayan Singh‎ in Allahabad, Vivek Singh and former Union minister Pradeep Aditya Jain in Bundelkhand.

In 2012, despite odds Congress won six seats in the region and had got a respectable vote share on quite a few other seats, one more than the BJP, which could just win 5 seats.

Though SP had won 24 seats in the region in 2012, in Bundelkhand, comprising districts of Hamirpur, Mahoba, Jhansi, Chitrakoot, Lalitpur and Jalaun, it was given a tough fight by the BSP. Here, BSP had won seven out 19 seats here while SP had won another seven. Congress had got 4 while BJP had to content with just 1 seat.

The Congress has been given a high numbers of seats to contest here this time around. A senior Congress leader said, “The natural anti-incumbency against The SP, can well be overcome by yielding bigger space to the Congress, more so when it has a respectable base in the region.”

He further added, “The confidence party has in itself can also be judged by the fact that it did not bow down to SP on 5 seats including Unchahar and Sairini, In Raebareli and three other seats of Mehroni, Bindki and Soraon.”

Political observers feel that BJP and BSP have both realised the potential of the alliance in this phase. This is the reason both Prime Minster Narendra Modi and BSP chief Mayawati have been attacking each other strongly on the campaign trail in Bundelkhand.

Modi described BSP as 'Behanji Sampatti party'‎, Mayawati hit back by calling him a 'Negative Dalit Man'. The strategy of the BJP is thus to ensure shift of Non-BJP votes towards BSP, thereby ensuring division of votes.

The SP-Congress alliance prospects in the region has also been strengthened by tactical support coming in from Independent MLA from Kunda‎, Raghu Raj Pratap Singh Raja Bhaiya. A close ally of the Samajwadi party, Raja Bhaiya holds a considerable clout on atleast three seats of Pratapgarh and in certain pockets of Allahabad.

Apart from Raja who is contesting from Kunda, other key faces in this phase are Congress leader Pramod Tiwari's daughter Aradhana Mishra from Rampur Khas (Pratapgarh); BSP legislature party leader Gaya Charan Dinker from Naraini seat in Banda; SP state minister Manoj Pandey from Uchahar seat in Rae Bareli; Congress candidate Aditi Singh, daughter of muscle man Akhilesh Singh, from Raebareli (Sadar); BJP national spokesperson Sidharthnath Singh from Allahabad (West); and Ujjwal Ram Singh, son of SP MP Rewti Ram Singh from Karchana (Allahabad).

| Edited by: Ashish Yechury
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