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For Congress, UP Poll Result Would be its Résumé for Future Pre-poll Partners

Rahul Gandhi has filed the nomination for the post of Congress president, paving the way for his much-awaited elevation and setting the stage for a contest against PM Narendra Modi ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha elections. (PTI Photo)

Rahul Gandhi has filed the nomination for the post of Congress president, paving the way for his much-awaited elevation and setting the stage for a contest against PM Narendra Modi ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha elections. (PTI Photo)

After a protracted campaign, political parties in Uttar Pradesh are preparing for the final dash in the last lap. The election shifts to the far east Poorvanchal region — a narrow belt extending from Sonauli, bordering Nepal in the north to Naxal-affected Sonbhadra down south.

New Delhi: After a protracted campaign, political parties in Uttar Pradesh are preparing for the final dash in the last lap. The election shifts to the far east Poorvanchal region — a narrow belt extending from Sonauli, bordering Nepal in the north to Naxal-affected Sonbhadra down south.

Based on the feedback in the first four phases, 18 seats which Congress is contesting in the last two phases out of 100 odd up for grabs, assume critical importance.

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In the last fortnight, as the elections have travelled from Ghaziabad to Ghazipur, what has been put to real test is the Congress's ability to hold on and consolidate the political capital generated by the gathbandhan (grand alliance). The final tally of the alliance with the Samajwadi Party would in many ways also depend on the Congress's strike rate in UP.

And most importantly, on the outcome of Uttar Pradesh elections on March 11 would hinge the Grand Old Party's bargaining capacity for any pre-poll ties henceforth. Regional parties across India would take a hard look at the Congress's performance to judge its ability to add value and bring something substantive to the table in a pre-poll alliance.

Uttar Pradesh, along with Punjab in that sense, would be a benchmark of the Congress's political capital, or whatever remains of it.


Since the 2014 debacle, the Congress has had pre-poll tie-ups with regional parties in two other states — Bihar and Tamil Nadu. One may also add West Bengal to this list.

Of these three provinces, only in Bihar did the mahagathbandhan romped home to secure a clear victory. A grand alliance in the real sense where Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar foiled BJP’s plans. One engaged the BJP on development and the other on caste. The Congress joined in to share the spoils.

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In the other two states, the major partner in alliance were up for disappointment — DMK in Tamil Nadu and the Left in West Bengal.

The DMK, some felt, would have been almost there had the Congress performed well in its share of seats.

In Uttar Pradesh again, the alliance with the Congress has been done on the presumption that it is the necessary mortar that binds the two bricks in a wall; that the Congress has the ability to swing minority votes towards the party it aligns with.


In politics, however, two and two is not necessarily four. It’s a different arithmetic altogether. Two and two can even add up to five if things work on the ground. It's more about chemistry than anything else.

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In the last one week, poll managers of the alliance have launched a massive door-to-door campaign to reach out to five lakh households every day. All constituencies going to elections in the last three phases are being covered with volunteers taking Akhilesh's personal message to the votes.

Unlike in Bihar, where Lalu and Nitish strategised to squeeze the BJP in a pincer attack, in Uttar Pradesh, Akhilesh Yadav leads the battle into the last two phases spread over Poorvanchal.