Congress managers and their strategies fall flat

Rahuls vote-garnering acumen comes under a cloud

The humiliating defeat of the Congress in Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls has raised questions over the vote-gathering abilities of its star campaigner Rahul Gandhi as well as the acumen of the poll strategists of the 126-year-old party.

Apart from wrong selection of candidates, weak fundamentals and too many leaders, the reasons cited by Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi for party’s rout, the strategies drafted by the party’s poll managers failed to deliver.

In a desperate attempt to revive itself in the state, where it has been out of power since 1989, the Congress party was banking on the Muslim and Kurmi support base.
Riding high on hopes with Union Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma as its Kurmi face, Congress strategists had identified 107 Assembly segments, where Kurmi-Muslim support base is in the range of 50,000 plus votes and hoped this chunk to vote for the party.

“The Lok Sabha results indicated that the party had performed reasonably well in the areas with Kurmi and minority support base. If we consolidate these in the Assembly polls, we hope to do much better than expected,” a Congress leader closely associated with the party’s election preparations had said.

However, the poll results show that Congress failed to attract the combination of Kurmi-Muslim voters. The party failed to win even a single Assembly seat, even in the Lok Sabha constituency of Verma. The party drew a nil in Union minister’s Gonda constituency, which has five assembly segments. Verma even failed to ensure the victory of his son Rakesh Verma from Dariyabad seat.

As for Muslims, constituting 18 percent of state population, Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party has emerged as a clear winner, a fact admitted even by the outgoing chief minister Mayawati. Muslims are the deciding factor in almost 133 of 403 assembly constituencies in the state.

Out of the 133 constituencies, Samajwadi Party won 65, while the Congress could manage just 10 seats. The Congress coalition partner- RLD - got just three and BSP bagged 30 seats. These figures are an indicator of the Muslim voting pattern.

The UP poll results also dashed the hopes of the party strategists, who stitched a pre-poll alliance with RLD believing that the Jat and Muslim combination would sweep the sugarcane belt of western Uttar Pradesh, especially after the party inducted the prominent Muslim leader of the belt - Rashid Masood, whose son  also lost the elections.

In an attempt to woo the voters and stress the seriousness of Rahul Gandhi’s promises for the state, the party also released Vision 2020 document, in addition to its manifesto outlining the road map for the state’s “all round development”.

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