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UP election results: Rahul Gandhi fails to revive Congress fortunes despite SP gamble

LiveMint logoLiveMint 11-03-2017 Anuja

New Delhi: The dismal performance of Congress party led by vice president Rahul Gandhi continued on Saturday as the party yet again failed to revive its electoral prospects in Uttar Pradesh reaching a historic low of just 7 seats (out of the 105 it contested).

The alliance with the Samajwadi Party (SP) was formed to challenge Prime Minister Narendra Modi but the experiment failed miserable as the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won more than three-fourth of the total 403 assembly seats. It also faced a humiliating loss in the incumbent Uttarakhand.

The only consolation for the Congress party came from Punjab where the party, led by former chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh, registered a resounding victory. In Goa and Manipur, the outcome of the results are still undecided.

With Congress president Sonia Gandhi unofficially handing over the reins to her son, the assembly elections was thus seen as a crucial test for the Congress party, which faced a historic rout in the 2014 general elections.

It lost the following state elections with the exception of Bihar, where it is a junior partner in an alliance with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Janata Dal (United), or JDU.

With Sonia Gandhi skipping the campaign in all the five states, Rahul Gandhi spearheaded the Congress’ effort to win power in Goa, Manipur, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.

The biggest challenge for Rahul Gandhi would now be to deal with a rout in UP where he had focussed most of his energy. A defeat of this magnitude in the biggest state in India would dash the hopes of party’s revival in North India. The electoral loss for Congress in UP and Uttarakhand signals Congress’ alienation from voters in the Hindi belt.

The Congress’s performance in the five state elections will have an impact on the campaign by a section of the party for his elevation to president. This section believes that the unresolved leadership issue has led to the further deepening of an already strained internal fight between the old guard and young blood.

Facing a dilemma between reviving the party organization by contesting a maximum number of seats or forming alliances to bolster its electoral fortunes, Rahul Gandhi opted for the latter by tying up with Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party in UP.

The results on Saturday will have an impact on the current political strength of India’s oldest political party and its leader, Rahul Gandhi, ahead of elections in key states including Gujarat, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

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