Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (Photo: AMAR DEEP/AFP/Getty Images)
PRIYANKA Gandhi Vadra, the general secretary of the All India Congress Committee for the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, is trying to re-energise her party ahead of the Uttar Pradesh elections in 2022.
She will visit state capital Lucknow this week to hold talks with party functionaries and will travel to other districts of the state to energise the party cadre to prepare the organisation for the 2022 polls, sources said on Monday (12). The same day, Vadra met senior party leaders from Uttar Pradesh on the preparations for the 2022 elections and during the meeting, the grand-old party vowed to hit the streets against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state over issues like unemployment, price rise and law and order situation.
The Congress has not been able to form a government in Uttar Pradesh for several years now and given the results it showed in the politically crucial state in the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha and 2017 state elections, the 2022 elections are a litmus test for the grand-old party. If the party ends up with yet another debacle in the 2022 polls in the state, then its Priyanka Gandhi card would also be deemed a failure and not many would give the party a chance in the 2024 national elections either.
There are no dearth of issues for the Congress to capitalise on but the party is in such a weak shape today that expecting it to conduct a comprehensive mission throughout the big and populous state to dethrone Yogi Adityanath in Lucknow could be more than daydreaming.
The recent district panchayat president elections have shown that the BJP is still a strong force in the state irrespective of the issues that Vadra has vowed to capitalise on. The coordination between the state government and the organisation of the BJP has been spot on during these elections that the saffron party swept. Even the Samajwadi Party (SP), one of Uttar Pradesh’s major political players, was blown away in the saffron storm.
Alliance with SP, BSP only way forward for Congress
For the Congress, the only way to take on the BJP is by forming an alliance with the SP and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). Even then, a victory against Adityanath and the BJP is not guaranteed. The grand-old party, which won only seven seats in the 400-plus assembly in Uttar Pradesh, must understand the reality that the BJP is a far more powerful entity to beat. The Congress has seen the departure of young leaders like Jyotiraditya Scindia and more recently, Jitin Prasada, who is a politician based in the poll-bound state. These incidents speak volume about the state of affairs in the Congress party today.
Yet, the Congress party seems to suffer from a ‘blue blood syndrome’. The party had tried to execute a new direction of functioning in the coalition era of Indian politics during its Pachmarhi session of 1998 but it looks nothing has really changed on the ground. The party leadership still perhaps expects that it will win a majority mandate of its own and script a massive turnaround in national politics. The dream is far too distant.
Moreover, the Congress’s slump has been so prominent that even the regional parties nowadays do not intend to take it aboard in a mission to derail the BJP. The SP joined hands with the Congress in the 2017 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections but the rout couldn’t be averted. This time, both the SP and BSP have made it clear that they would not ally with any big party but concentrate on smaller parties.
That gives the BJP a huge relief for it divides the anti-BJP votes in the state. It is disappointing to see the Gandhis have not taken any initiative to reach out to the SP and BSP to orchestrate a mega anti-BJP alliance in a bid to topple Adityanath. With no such plan in place, it is very unlikely that the results of the 2022 assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh will surprise the pundits.