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With Priyanka Gandhi Leading Charge, Congress Comes Up With 'Mission 30' Strategy For UP

The seats under 'Mission 30' are distributed across the state. West Saharanpur, Ghaziabad and Rampur come under this category. In Ghaziabad, Congress had got around 1.90 lakh votes. In Rampur, this figure was 1.56 lakh.

Pranshu Mishra | CNN-News18

Updated:January 23, 2019, 8:31 PM IST
With Priyanka Gandhi Leading Charge, Congress Comes Up With 'Mission 30' Strategy For UP
Priyanka will be taking charge of the new responsibility from the first week of February, a press release issued by General Secretary Ashok Gehlot said. (Image: AP)

Lucknow: After the snub by the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party for an electoral alliance in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress has vowed to give a tough fight on all 80 seats in the states.

But behind the scenes, at the hectic meetings held since the alliance announcement, 'Mission 30' is what has come to define the party's core strategy for the state. The ‘mission’ focuses on those seats where the party had secured above or near 1 lakh votes in 2014.

But it promises to be a high risk, high reward gamble as many of these 30 seats are also those where the 'Congress Dynamics' - divided votes for a divided opposition - can actually go in BJP's favour.

This scenario holds true wherever Congress will be contesting independently.

For example, in 2014 elections, Congress's Imran Masood had come second with 4 lakh votes in Saharanpur. The BJP candidate had won the seat with 4.77 lakh votes. The BSP and SP had together received around 3 lakh votes. A divided opposition, clearly, can be a reason to celebrate for the BJP.

Politics, however, is not always about the text book scenario. The equation on the ground can surely change, and the party has played its biggest trump card yet – Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

The 47-year-old has been appointed the party’s campaign head in eastern UP, and will be pitted against CM Yogi Adityanath and PM Narendra Modi, apart from the ‘Bua-Bhatija’ alliance.

The stunning political entry will no doubt galvanise the Congress rank and file, and energise the booth-level workers to seek votes.

A senior leader of the UP Congress, not willing to be quoted, said the decision to focus on 30 seats was plainly a matter of strategy.

“Though the party will focus on the entire state, those seats where we had a respectable presence in past 2 elections will clearly be the priority areas,” he said.

Almost all of the 21 seats which Congress had won in 2009 fall under this category.

The seats under 'Mission 30' are distributed across the state. West Saharanpur, Ghaziabad and Rampur come under this category. In Ghaziabad, Congress had got around 1.90 lakh votes. In Rampur, this figure was 1.56 lakh.

But some analysts say Congress' vote share in some constituencies of west UP can also be credited to the fact that it was in alliance with RLD in 2014, and it won’t have that cushion this time, with the Ajit Singh party joining the mahagathbandhan.

While the RLD had contested in 8 seats in west UP, including Baghpat, Hathras, Mathura, Kairana, Bulandshahr, Amroha and Nageena, the Congress had contested the remaining ones.

However, a counter argument to this logic is - why the Congress got less than 20,000 votes in some other Jat-dominated seats like Muzzafarnagar and Gautam Buddh Nagar. Clearly, this means that Jat as a community had shifted towards the BJP, leaving its traditional loyalty to the RLD.

The reason why the Congress did well in Saharanpur, Ghaziabad and Rampur was probably because of the big leaders contesting from those seats: Imran Masood in Saharanpur, Nawab Kazim Ali in Rampur and Raj Babbar in Ghaziabad.

The other seats that come under the Mission 30 category for the Congress include Aonla, Bareilly, Kheri, Dhaurara in Rohilkhand and Terai Region, Unnao, Lucknow, Kanpur, Pratapgarh and Farrukhabad in central UP.

The list also includes Akbarpur, Jalaun, Jhansi, and Hamirpur seats of Bundelkhand. In all these seats, the party polled roughly between 80 thousand to one lakh votes. Coming under this criteria are also Gonda and Domariyaganj.

In East UP, Congress will be strongly focusing on Kushinagar, where senior Congress leader RPN Singh had contested in the last elections and had got around 2.85 lakh votes. In Mirzapur, Congress received 1.52 lakh votes.

In Prime Minister Modi’s constituency Varanasi, although Arvind Kejriwal of AAP was voted runner up, Congress's Ajay Rai had won more votes than SP and BSP candidates. Rai had got above 75 thousand votes. Varanasi, therefore, is also in the focus list.

The Mission 30 list no doubt would also include the Gandhi bastions of Amethi and Rae Bareli - the only two constituencies presently held by Congress party. Rahul Gandhi is the MP from Amethi, while his mother Sonia Gandhi represents the Rae Bareli​ seat.

Congress's state president Raj Babbar was not willing to divulge anything on the strategy. When questioned on Tuesday in Lucknow, he said “We can assure that Congress will do better than 2009. SP-BSP has committed a mistake by underestimating us.”

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| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
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