Priyanka political entry: Congress trump card stumps rivals but caste equations could play spoiler

The Congress, which seemingly lacked a charismatic leader, would have a face to connect with masses in the run-up to the elections, political observers said.

Published: 24th January 2019 09:39 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th January 2019 12:38 PM   |  A+A-

Congress workers celebrate Priyanka’s annointment at the party office in New Delhi on Saturday | naveen kuMAR

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The last leg plunge of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra into politics is being seen in political circles as a desperate attempt by the Congress to wrest the third pole in the electorally crucial state of Uttar Pradesh.

The BJP, which is seemingly in a spot with Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) joining hands, is still deciphering the potential impact of the Congress’ “trump card” even as it is drawing comfort from the fact that UP would no more be a direct contest.

The Congress’ announcement may force political pundits to revisit the early assessment that the SP-BSP arithmetic would stall the saffron juggernaut in UP in a ‘one on one’ electoral contest. The Congress, which seemingly lacked a charismatic leader, would have a face to connect with masses in the run-up to the elections, political observers said.

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Before ceding political space to SP and BSP, the Congress had commanded appeal among all communities in the state, with the core support base being Brahmins, Dalits, and Muslims. “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 immediate elections,” a senior BJP functionary said.

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The BJP’s topmost worry in UP has apparently been the possibility of 18 per cent minority vote base going to the SP-BSP combine. “The 10 per cent quota plank may help the BJP come unscathed 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’s electoral politics isn’t an open and shut case as is being presented,” another BJP functionary said. The BJP remained guarded on Wednesday, with the party choosing to ignore Priyanka’s anointment.

The Samajwadi Party dismissed the development as an ‘internal matter,’ but party leaders seemed hardly amused.“We welcome the entry of youths and women in politics. However, SP-BSP alliance in UP is capable of taking on the NDA”, said SP leader Abdul Hafeez Gandhi.

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