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Can Sheila Dixit turnaround Congress’s fortunes in UP?

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Congress is trying to regain the lost ground in UP where currently it has just 30 MLAs in the 403-member assembly. Congress could win only two seats of Amethi and Rae Bareli in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls represented by Rahul and Sonia Gandhi respectively. The Brahmin community plays a significant role in election outcome in central and eastern UP as it is the dominant caste in these areas. Election strategist Prashant Kishor had recommended that Sheila Dikshit should play a major role in the party’s poll campaign in the State. Ms. Dikshit, a three-time Delhi Chief Minister and UP’s “daughter-in-law” said she can play very major role in reviving Congress party in the state.

Sheila Dikshit will be Congress’s chief ministerial candidate in Uttar Pradesh where Assembly elections are due early next year. Right now UP needs a leader who can set law and order and also bring some development in the state, Sheila is known as development leader because of her achievements as chief minister of Delhi for three successive terms.

The Congress, however is yet to decide what role Priyanka Vadra will play in the crucial state polls in 2017, but preparing ground for her bigger role in Uttar Pradesh and thereafter her entry into active politics. Priyanka is expected to launch the Congress campaign at a rally in either Lucknow or Allahabad — probably from Anand Bhawan — in the second week of August. She will go on to address election meetings in around 120 constituencies. For all political purposes, she will be the face of the Congress campaign. So far Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi gave good show with heavy crowd pulling. People are returning back to them.

Sheila Dikshit playing a major role in the Congress’s poll campaign in the Uttar Pradesh as she is a prominent Brahmin face and could help the party regain support of the electorally sizeable and significant community, whose support determines the poll outcome in several seats. The community, a traditional vote bank of the Congress, shifted allegiance to BJP in the aftermath of the emergence of Mandir-Mandal politics. A large chunk of Brahmin votes had also gone to Mayawati’s BSP in the past when she gave tickets to many candidates belonging to the community, but now Dikshit’s entry may pull these same votes for Congress in upcoming elections.

Sheila Dikshit is the daughter in law of, Uma Shankar Dikshit, a man who started his political career when he joined the Indian freedom movement, during which he was imprisoned four times. His great contribution to freedom struggle cannot be neglected. He is basically from village of Unnao district; he got his education from Kanpur. Since his student life he joined the freedom movement and was the Secretary of the District Congress Committee Kanpur during the period when Sh. Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi was the President of the Committee. He served the Country as the Home Minister, Health Minister and Governor of Karnataka and West Bengal. He also served as treasurer of All India Congress Committee, and Managing Director of Associated Journals at Lucknow. He founded a Girls Intermediate College at his village Ugu in the memory of his mother.

He was awarded Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award in India in 1989, by the Government of India. Her father in law’s credentials can benefit Sheila.

In the complex caste calculus of the state, the only voter Congress could eye is the Brahmin. The BJP is trying to stitch together a Rajput-Bania-Dalit-Kurmi alliance; the Samajwadi Party banks on Muslim-Yadav combination and Mayawati has a captive base among Dalits and segments of OBCs. The Brahmin vote, the Congress believes, is the only floating one in the state. In 2012, the Congress polled just around 12 percent votes. It is hoping that state’s 10 percent Brahmins, if successfully snared into the fold, can give it the required push for power. Its strategists feel if Brahmins return to the Congress, minority voters may also be tempted to look at the party as a viable option. Although the party may talk big on the election trail, its realistic target is 60-70 seats in a hung Assembly. This number, its strategists feel, will allow it to strike an alliance with the BSP and stay in the game till the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Meanwhile, its high time BJP and its supporters need to realize that Congress has been punished for their mistakes time and again including 2014 elections, Now if Modi and BJP make mistakes they too are going to face the heat, people have not chosen Modi for Congress Mukt Bharat, they chose him for development, believing in Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas. In Uttar Pradesh after 2014’s success hardly any BJP leader gave time to people in their constituency, they were never accessible for the common man. Their arrogance was too much, moreover Pankaj Singh – Ranveer Singh as Party President and vice-president were not brilliant choices, Lalji Tandon’s son is another spoiler.

Post-Bihar, especially when BJP’s image has taken a beating due to the whole intolerance conversation, UP residents don’t seem to be in a mood to experiment with their political loyalties. So chances are quite low for Aam Aadmi Party too. The ruling SP is suffering acute anti-incumbency sentiment and its popularity graph is falling down. SP and BSP have a loyal voter base in Yadavs, Muslims, and Dalits which form more than 40 per cent of UP’s population. Another advantage these parties have is strong leadership at state level, as well as district and city levels, an advantage that BJP lacks. Now Sheila Dikshit the INC Brahmin face may not guarantee win for Congress but she will definitely damage Brahmin votes and get more than expected seats for Congress. If polarization is heavy then BJP can manage to sustain, still let’s see who makes it.

(Any suggestions, comments or dispute with regards to this article send us on feedback@afternoonvoice.com)

Dr Vaidehi Tamanhttp://www.vaidehisachin.com
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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