NEW DELHI: The late plunge of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra into politics is being seen by many as a desperate attempt by the Congress to retrieve what best it can in electorally crucial Uttar Pradesh.
The BJP, which is seemingly in a spot with SP (Samajwadi Party) and BSP (Bahujan Samajwadi Party) joining hands, is still deciphering the potential impact of the Congress' 'trump card' entering the arena even as it is drawing comfort from the fact that UP will no more be a direct contest.
The announcement may also force political pundits to revisit their early assessment that the SP-BSP arithmetic will stall the saffron juggernaut in UP in a 'one-on-one' electoral contest. The Congress, which seemingly lacked a charismatic leader till now in the state, will have a popular face to connect with the masses in the run-up to the elections, noted political observers.
Before ceding political space to SP and BSP, the Congress' core support base was made up of Brahmins, Dalits, and Muslims. With the additional help of a clutch of OBC leaders, including Shyamlal Yadav, Chandrajeet Yadav, Jainul Bashar in eastern UP, the Congress dominated the political landscape of the Hindi heartland state till the 1980s.
"The Congress revival will worry the BJP, SP, and BSP in equal measure. Yet, it's to be seen whose turf is challenged more in the elections," said a senior BJP functionary.
The BJP's topmost worry in UP has apparently been the possibility of the 18 per cent minority vote base supporting the SP-BSP combine. Holding on to the eight per cent Brahmin vote base could also prove a worry for the BJP amid the perception that the party favoured Thakurs with the advent of Yogi Adityanath as CM.
"The 10 per cent quota plank may help the BJP in the fast-changing upper caste equations in the state. Yet, if a stronger Congress is able to cut into the traditional vote base of SP-BSP, then UP electoral politics isn't an open and shut case as is being presented," said another BJP functionary.
The BJP remained guarded on Wednesday. They focused on the theme of Gandhi dynasty, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying during an interaction with booth-level workers that while democracy runs in the veins of the BJP, some parties always turn to dynasties.
"The Congress has made clear the succession line that after Rahul Gandhi there will be Priyanka Gandhi Vadra," said the BJP vice president Prabhat Jha.