Lok Sabha polls: In 2019, Congress lost deposits on most seats it has secured for 2024 in UP

Congress, which won a solitary seat in 2019, lost deposits in 12 of the 17 seats it secured in the Uttar Pradesh seat-sharing deal with the Samajwadi Party.
Image used for representational purposes only.
Image used for representational purposes only.Express Illustrations

After weeks of hard bargaining and long parleys, the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Congress reached a deal in Uttar Pradesh to contest the 2024 Lok Sabha elections together. This has enthused the grassroots workers and given impetus to the INDIA bloc's prospects in the northern state, which sends the largest numbers of lawmakers (80 seats) to the Lok Sabha.

The Akhilesh Yadav-led party had allotted 17 seats to the Congress and one to the Chandrashekhar Azad-led Azad Samaj Party (ASP). The SP will field candidates for the rest of the 62 seats.

The poll alliance between the two parties revives the memory of the 2017 Assembly elections, when the "two boys" (Akhilesh Yadav and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi) joined hands to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The alliance formed for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections appears to be driven more by necessity than by a carefully devised strategy to challenge the dominance of the BJP.

An analysis of election data reveals that the 17 seats allotted to the Congress party are notably those where it performed inadequately during the 2019 general elections. Across 12 of these seats, the party failed to retain deposits, while in one constituency, Bansgaon, it abstained from fielding a candidate altogether in the 2019 elections.

In the 2019 elections, the Congress party contested 67 seats but lost deposits in about 63 constituencies. Sonia Gandhi, former AICC President, secured the sole victory for the party in its pocketborough, Rae Bareli, while Rahul Gandhi suffered defeat to the BJP's Smriti Irani in the traditional Congress bastion of Amethi.

In the 2024 polls, the seats where Congress will contest include Rae Bareli, Amethi, Kanpur, Fatehpur Sikri, Bansgaon, Saharanpur, Prayagraj, Maharajgandj, Varanasi, Amroha, Jhansi, Bulandshahr, Ghaziabad, Mathura, Sitapur, Barabanki and Deoria.

Of the 17 seats, Varanasi is Prime Minister Narendra Modi's constituency, while Congress does not have much to expect from its stronghold, Amethi, owing to its "lack of attention."

In 2019, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), led by the BJP, secured victory in 64 out of 80 seats, with the Samajwadi Party (SP) in alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) securing 15 seats. The Congress party's disastrous show led to it holding onto the solitary Rae Bareli seat.

With Mayawati's BSP deciding to go solo in 2024 and Jayant Singh's RLD leaving the INDIA bloc to side with the NDA, the alliance between the SP, Congress and Azad's ASP seems to be a less formidable alliance compared to the 2019 coalition.

In 2019, the SP-BSP-RLD alliance appealed to a diverse array of voters, including Muslims, Yadavs, Jats, Dalits, and segments of OBCs.

However, the absence of Jat and Dalit-lower OBC votes is conspicuous in the current arrangement, with Azad yet to demonstrate widespread support within the SC community, particularly as the majority of Jatavs remain aligned with Mayawati.

Image used for representational purposes only.
Lok Sabha polls: Mayawati's BSP faces uphill battle in UP amid three-way fight with NDA, INDIA bloc

The seat-sharing agreement between the parties will indeed give impetus and strength to the INDIA alliance; however, the past electoral records do not offer much hope.

The INDIA bloc had already suffered many blows in the run-up to the parliamentary elections, with many regional satraps declaring to go solo.

The seat-sharing deal between the two parties wavered for quite some time before finally getting clinched on Wednesday after AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi reportedly played the icebreaker.

Expressing his gratitude to Priyanka Gandhi for her efforts, AICC in-charge of UP Avinash Pande said on Wednesday that she is trying to bring all the opposition parties together to defeat the BJP in UP.

In response to a question on the list of Congress candidates, Pande said that the party leadership will release it soon after discussion.

On the party's candidates for Raebareli and Amethi seats, Pande said, "No decision has been taken in this regard yet," adding that these two seats are very close to the Gandhi family.

Speculation is intensifying that Priyanka Gandhi might make her Lok Sabha debut from Rae Bareli, a constituency long held by her mother.

This follows Sonia Gandhi's decision to contest the recently concluded elections to the Rajya Sabha, where she was elected unopposed to the upper house from Rajasthan on Wednesday.

(With additional inputs from IANS and PTI)

Related Stories

No stories found.

The New Indian Express