Thin turnout in Bundelkhand raises questions about UP ke ladke strategy

Akhilesh seems to be the junior partner in the Uttar Pradesh poll alliance while Rahul Gandhi is playing big brother.

Published: 19th February 2017 10:09 PM  |   Last Updated: 19th February 2017 10:09 PM   |  A+A-

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, left and Congress party Vice President Rahul Gandhi. | AP File Photo

Express News Service

JHANSI: A day after BSP supremo Mayawati addressed a public meeting attended by 30,000 people here in Jhansi, some 2000 people turned out for a show by the UP ke ladke, Akhilesh Yadav and Rahul Gandhi.

On a hot sunny afternoon, the venue – the Government Inter College grounds here was packed with cars and two wheelers while the thin turnout of people was too obvious to miss. Akhilesh Yadav spoke first against a backdrop featuring Mulayam Singh and extolling his own ‘bromance’ with Rahul Gandhi with the words written ‘UP ko yeh saath pasand hai.’

Akhilesh Yadav speech was about his kaam ki baat -- medical colleges, electricity, four-lane roads, pensions, medical facilities – and juxtaposed it with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mann ki baat, ending with the question, “What has he done?” He then elaborated: ''The people of UP are going to make Modiji sweat. What has he done for the people of Bundelkhand? Don’t forget, he sent empty trains after promising to send us water tankers.''

The moment Akhilesh Yadav was through with his speech, people started leaving the venue even as the moderator announced that Rahul Gandhi would speak. Congress workers tried in vain to prevent people from leaving saying ''nashta aa ra hai, ruk jao", embarrassing the leaders on the stage.

The Congress VP target too was Narendra Modi, whom he tried to portray as a solo player who does not allow his ministers to do anything. ''Modiji goes to US, does not take along Sushma Swarajji. Obama comes to India and talks only to Modi. On his own, Modji announces demonetisation. Modiji may be tired after doing all this. We want to give him,” said Rahul Gandhi to the cheers of the front rows.

It’s possible that for the people of Bundelkhand, Vijay Mallya or Obama meant nothing. One man said he didn’t know who Vijay Mallya is. ''I came here only to listen to Akhilesh bhayya. Rahul to aisey hi bolte hain. Hamare samajh mein kuch nahin aata hai,'' said Anup Chaurasia, who had come all the way from Babina.

Analysts say the Congress knows there is nothing much at stake for it while the stakes are high for Akhilesh. ''Rahul Gandhi is using this gatbandhan to project himself as a national leader, making it him vs Modi. The Congress knows where it stands in UP,'' says AK Shrivastav, a Lucknow-based political analyst.

''For Rahul, it is his role in national politics that’s important, not in UP,'' he adds.

 Ever since the alliance was announced, analysts say Rahul Gandhi has been trying to play big brother. ''Even today, Rahul’s statement that one day Akhilesh would go to the US and find a Made-in-Kanpur jacket there was in a big brother tone,'' says Alok Nath Dubey, a retired professor residing in Lalithpur, near Jhansi.

Recalling the 2012 elections, he says that while the SP won 224 seats, Congress won 28 and now Akhilesh seems to be the junior partner in the alliance while Rahul Gandhi is playing big brother. ''This alliance may cost Akhilesh dearly,'' says Dubey.


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