It was not just a victory but a landslide win for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Uttar Pradesh in assembly elections 2017. The wave in UP also went up to Uttarakhand where the BJP dislodged the Congress government to stamp its authority in the state. Flabbergasted by the BJP’s win, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati came out in the open and accused the former of indulging in false practices and of tampering with the results.
But amid all the hullabaloo over BJP’s victory, one person seems to be missing from the scene – Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi. Hand in hand with Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, Rahul campaigned across the length and breadth of the state. But to no avail. The party has suffered one of the worst defeats ever in Uttar Pradesh, this time.
So does joining hands with Rahul Gandhi mean treading on a tricky road? At least the past says so.
Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance: Though incumbent UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav did not seem to be winning with a majority, the chances of the party even doing decently well looked bleak after it joined hands with the Congress. The pictures of Rahul and Akhilesh joining hands and doing campaign shows together flooded our TV screens and social media timelines. With every picture, the chances of the alliance getting votes seemed to slow down. 11 March 2017, the Congress suffered a dismal show in both Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
Congress: For over the years, the Congress has been urging its vice president to take over the reigns of the party. But every time, Rahul dodges the bullet. With his mother and Congress president Sonia Gandhi out of the big picture on account of her ill health, he is practically presiding over the party. How well the party is doing under her leadership is for everyone to see.
More focus on UP: Congress has recorded a big win in Punjab in 2017 elections. Many say the votes that came in favour of Congress were due to Captain Amarinder Singh who was the party’s chief ministerial candidate. Many also say the party won the state because Rahul focussed less on Punjab and more in Uttar Pradesh. Him being on rallies and roadshows in UP allowed the Captain to campaign for the party in Punjab.
2014 Lok Sabha elections: One one hand was Narendra Modi and on the other hand was Rahul Gandhi. Several Congress leaders within the Congress urged Rahul to take charge of the party then and lead them from the front. He did not take charge as the party President but vigorously campaigned for the Congress. The party was dislodged from power after 10 long years and was decimated to just 60 seats while the BJP bagged 334 seats.
Prashant Kishore: The poll strategist was believed to have a Midas touch, of course before he started working for Rahul Gandhi. His strategies were believed to be the reason behind Modi’s landslide victory in 2014 Lok Sabha elections and Nitish Kumar’s victory in Bihar elections in 2015. In 2017, though Kishore was able to get Congress to win Punjab, the flop show in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand overshadowed the victory. Certainly, it’s much more than a poll strategist that you need to win elections.