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Samajwadi Party rebellion triggers alarm bells in Congress

The cause of the alarm in the Congress was that three of the seven SP legislators who either voted for the BJP nominees in the Rayja Sabha poll or did not cast their votes were from Raebareli and Amethi Lok Sabha constituencies, both considered to be strongholds of the grand old party.
Last Updated 28 February 2024, 14:40 IST

Lucknow: Cross-voting by several Samajwadi Party (SP) MLAs in Tuesday's Rajya Sabha elections from Uttar Pradesh has triggered alarm bells in the Congress camp in the state even though the grand old party was not affected by the outcome of the polls.

The cause of the alarm in the Congress was that three of the seven SP legislators who either voted for the BJP nominees in the Rayja Sabha poll or did not cast their votes were from Raebareli and Amethi Lok Sabha constituencies, both considered to be strongholds of the grand old party.

SP chief whip in the state assembly Manoj Pandey, who resigned minutes before the Rajya Sabha polls and declared his support for the BJP candidates, was a prominent 'Brahmin' face and represented Unchahar assembly seat in Raebareli Lok Sabha constituency.

Pandey's defection to BJP was being perceived as part of a well planned electoral strategy to oust Congress from its last bastion in the state. After former Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who currently represents Raebareli in the Lok Sabha, decided to move to the upper house, the BJP feels that it has a good chance of winning the seat in the forthcoming general elections.

Incidentally, several influential prominent 'thakur' leaders, including Aditi Singh and Dinesh Pratap Singh, from the Congress, have already joined the BJP and Pandey's switch is being perceived as a major catch for the saffron party ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

Similarly Rakesh Pratap Singh, one of the seven SP MLAs, who voted from the BJP in the Rajya Sabha polls, is an MLA from Gauriganj assembly seat in Amethi Lok Sabha constituency. Singh's desertion could further consolidate the BJP's position in Amethi and thwart any attempt by the Congress to wrest its old bastion from the saffron party.

Another SP MLA Maharaji Devi, who kept away from the Rajya Sabha polls, hailed from 'Kumhar' community, an OBC, and was an MLA from Amethi assembly seat. There are speculations that she too may join the BJP in the near future.

Both Amethi and Raebareli Lok Sabha seats have been given to the Congress as part of the seat sharing deal with the SP. There are also speculations that Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra may contest from Raebareli.

Congress has already lost Amethi in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls when senior party leader Rahul Gandhi was defeated by union minister Smriti Irani by over 55 thousand votes.

Although Sonia had been able to retain the seat uninterrupted since 2004 and was the lone winner for her party in Uttar Pradesh in the previous LS polls, her victory margin had witnessed a gradual decline over the past few elections and notwithstanding her emotional letter to the voters of the constituency appealing to them to keep supporting the Gandhis, the BJP feels that her absence from the electoral scene may ultimately help it in demolishing the last remaining Congress bastion in the state in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

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(Published 28 February 2024, 14:40 IST)

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