No matter who it allies with, Congress unlikely to gain much in upcoming UP elections

By Faisal Fareed,

In an era of coalition politics, all parties are looking forward to alliances with other parties to reap benefits in the poll-bound Uttar Pradesh. Congress is no exception, but it is clear that coalition has never benefited the grand old party in UP.

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Congress which has lost its traditional vote bank of Muslims, Dalits and even Brahmins, is seen gasping for breath in all elections in UP. Though Congress tried several permutations and combinations the party is now left with just a minor role in UP politics and has no vote bank to benefit from any coalition.

Congress tried to regain the lost Dalit vote bank by forming an alliance with Bahujan Samaj Party in 1996. The intention was that Dalits which have drifted from Congress will return to its fold. The results were however totally different. BSP, which had got just 12 seats in 1991 with a vote share of 10.26% contested on 296 seats in 1996 in alliance with Congress. Congress was given only 126 seats and thus the story of shrinking of Congress began. BSP won 67 seats with 27.73% votes. Though Congress got 29.13% of votes but could win only 33 seats. It shows that Dalits of BSP though voted for Congress but Congress which has no vote bank of its own could not capitalise. Despite being a national party it became a small time party in UP.

Congress lost confidence, and so did the voters. In 1996, it tried by merging Ajit Singh’s party but did not get desired results and Ajit parted ways within one year.

Left with no choice, it contested alone in 2002 but won only 25 seats. For Congress, its winning legislators had their personal aura and it won some seats due to local equations.

Again, Congress looked for clutches and contested the 2012 assembly polls with RLD and 2014 Lok Sabha polls with RLD but failed to come to center stage.

This time the Congress is looking for an alliance and it is inclined towards Samajwadi Party. It wants to end the 27-year drought of staying away from power. But despite all tactics—roping in poll strategist Prashant Kishore, Yatras by Rahul Gandhi—Congress has so far failed to click with voters.
And it is unlikely to be a gaining much with an alliance as it continues to have limited options.