Will Priyanka's 'vote' ride revive Cong fortune in UP

Will Priyanka's 'vote' ride revive Cong fortune in UP

Congress General Secretary UP-East Priyanka Gandhi Vadra offer prayers at Vindhyavasini Temple, in Mirzapur district, on Tuesday. PTI

Cheering crowds and a smiling Priyanka Gandhi Vadra hopping from one temple to another, taking care that her head is covered with the 'pallu' while offering prayers amid chanting of Vedic hymns, may give one the impression that she may revive the Congress fortune in Uttar Pradesh.

Attacks by the BJP as well as Samajwadi-Bahujan Samajwadi Party leaders on Priyanka's campaigning through boat ride from Prayagraj to Varanasi, the Lok Sabha constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, may also be taken as a reflection of their perturbation.

Political pundits, however, differ sharply on whether the Congress general secretary can provide a new lease of life to the grand old party, which is fighting to remain relevant in this politically crucial state that sends 80 MPs to the Lok Sabha.

That her campaign has all the ingredients to attract the attention of the people — not only those who reside in the villages in six LS constituencies along the bank of the Ganga but also in other parts of the state — remains undisputed. What is disputed is whether the crowds thronging Priyanka's meetings will translate into votes.

The Congress' star campaigner's boat will be passing through the LS constituencies of Allahabad, Bhadohi, Mirzapur, Phulpur and Varanasi. Priyanka halts at the ghats on the way and interacts with the people, drawn mainly from the 'Nishad', SC and OBC communities.

During the first two days of her four-day visit, the Congress leader has visited virtually every famous temples. Beginning her journey by offering milk at the 'Sangam' at Prayagraj, Priyanka paid obeisance at Hanuman Temple, Sheetla Mata Temple and Vindhyavasini Temple in Mirzapur besides visiting 'Sita Samahit Sthal', a revered Hindu pilgrimage.

She will be performing 'puja' at the Ganga ghat in Varanasi besides paying obeisance at Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Sankat Mochan and Kal Bhairav temples there in the next two days.

Calling herself the 'beti of Ganga' (Ganga's daughter), she said that she will be "taking the help of the Ganga to reach the people". Following the footsteps of Modi, Priyanka also had "Sanchi Baat" (true dialogue) with the students during the visit.

"Priyanka may attract a crowd but she will not be able to fetch votes for her party," says political analyst J P Shukla. UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath also thinks so. "She is not a challenge for us," he said.

"Priyanka has certainly galvanised Congress workers...she may very well bring votes also," says Prof Dinesh Kumar, a former faculty at Lucknow University.

It will be interesting to see if Priyanka does succeed in reviving the fortunes of her party. We will know that on May 23.