With 1 MP and 2 MLAs, Congress faces do-or-die battle in Uttar Pradesh

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Lucknow, March 26 (IANS) Uttar Pradesh was once considered to be the stronghold of the Congress party as the Amethi and Rae Bareli constituencies have always sent Gandhi-family scions to the parliament.

However, Congress has been reduced to just one MP in the outgoing Lok Sabha and two MLAs in the 403-member Uttar Pradesh legislative assembly.

In the upcoming Lok Sabha election, the Congress faces a do-or-die battle in Uttar Pradesh as the party is low on confidence, lacks leadership and also faces a dearth of candidates.

The Congress currently has no representation in the legislative council of Uttar Pradesh.

The Congress secured 6.36 per cent of the votes in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The biggest setback in these elections was that senior party leader Rahul Gandhi had suffered a defeat in Amethi where union minister Smriti Irani emerged victorious in the last election.

The cadres sunk into the realms of despair and the party’s vote share plummeted to a mere 2.33 per cent in the 2022 UP legislative assembly polls.

Any further decline in the party’s performance in the upcoming elections will result in no representation for the Congress from Uttar Pradesh, a state that has sent nine prime ministers to the Lok Sabha.

The Congress faces the challenge of working out political equations and evaluating winnability as it selects its candidates for 17 out of 80 seats it is contesting in alliance with the Samajwadi Party in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

The foremost challenge for the Congress is not only to defend Rae Bareli but also to increase its tally in Uttar Pradesh.

The party is yet to announce candidates for two key parliamentary (Amethi and Rae Bareli) constituencies. It is not yet known if a member of the Gandhi family will contest these seats.

Sonia Gandhi was the only Congress candidate who won in Uttar Pradesh in 2019. She got 55.78 per cent votes in Rae Bareli. Rahul Gandhi with 43.84 per cent votes lost to Smriti Irani in Amethi five years ago. Irani won with 49.69 per cent votes.

Sonia Gandhi has since taken the Rajya Sabha route to parliament through Rajasthan.

Congress fortunes have been going downhill since 2009 when the party won 21 seats.

It won only two seats in 2014 and one in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Of the 17 seats given to the Congress for the 2024 election, the party had won only six in 2009 — Rae Bareli, Amethi, Kanpur, Maharajganj, Jhansi and Barabanki.

The Congress, so far, has named candidates for three of the six seats – Alok Mishra in Kanpur, Tanuj Punia in Barabanki and Pradeep Jain Aditya in Jhansi.

Initial reports say that Congress candidates in Saharanpur (Imran Masood) and Amroha (Danish Ali) have taken an early lead and with the caste arithmetic favouring them, they could help the Congress increase its tally.

A former UPCC president, who spoke to IANS on condition of anonymity, said that the problem is that no one in UP is there to guide the candidates or address their problems.

“The UPCC President Ajay Rai is a candidate himself. Besides, there is no direction to the campaign. All other parties have their campaigns ready but our candidates are groping in the dark,” he said.

With every electoral arithmetic pitted against the grand old party, can Congress do the impossible and revive its tally in an all-important state of the country?



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