By Sidhartha Dutta
New Delhi, (IANS): The catchy slogans of the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance in Uttar Pradesh like “UP ke ladke”, “UP ko yeh saath pasand hai” and “Kaam bolta hai” have not been able to connect with the voters as they rejected the alliance to hand the BJP a massive victory in the state.
The BJP swept to an unprecedented majority in Uttar Pradesh with 312 seats.
The SP got 47 seats while the Congress could manage only 7 seats.
The two young faces of the alliance — outgoing Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi — were not able to cash in on the young voters of the state, who they tried to attract.
They were, however, attracted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s charisma, rather than the “Kaam bolta hai” slogan of Akhilesh Yadav.
Before its alliance in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress had been critical of the performance of the Samajwadi Party. The Congress had coined the slogan “27 saal, UP behaal. (UP has been in abysmal state for the past 27 years) to remind the people of its own rule in the 1980s and convey that the BJP, Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party had failed to deliver.
The moment they allied with the Samajwadi Party, it struck a blow to the hopes of many Congress workers who had hoped for their party’s revival in the northern state.
Many Congress leaders had also expressed their reservations over the alliance with the Samajwadi Party. A party leader said there was a lot of enthusiasm among the party workers when it was ready to go it alone in the assembly polls.
He said the 26-day ‘Kisan Yatra’ (farmers’ rally), which culminated in Delhi last October with a roadshow and rally of Rahul Gandhi, was a step in the right direction.
Another Congress leader however said the entire party leadership should take responsibility for the debacle in Uttar Pradesh.
“In UP, our strategy was a complete failure. The BJP in 2014 won 328 assembly segments with 43 per cent vote share. Our strategy failed to counter that. The BJP was far more meticulous in planning and execution.
“Who is to be blamed is to be collectively answered by the party and its leadership,” a senior Congress leader said on the condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, the family feud in the Samajwadi Party seems to have cost the party a lot as Akhilesh Yadav underestimated the role of his uncle Shivpal Yadav in the elections.
Many party supporters did not take too kindly to the fact that SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav was sidelined by his son Akhilesh to become the party President.
Due to this, many non-Yadav OBC voters, who earlier supported Mulayam Singh Yadav, had this time voted for the BJP. The BJP was successful in bringing these voters into their fold.
A few leaders even thought the “alliance with Congress” was a big mistake. The alliance failed miserably in transfering their own votes to the other party in most of the constituencies.
One of the objectives of the SP-Congress alliance was to attract the Muslim votes, but this too was dashed when the Muslim votes got divided between the BSP and the SP in the state.
Moreover, both the parties went against each other in over a dozen seats in UP and it was enough to confuse the voters of these constituencies. The alliance with the Congress party even irked a number of voters in the state.
“The BJP micro-managed elections really well, changing strategies from stage to stage. The alliance with the Congress was a big mistake,” SP leader and spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia told IANS.
He said that “dynastic politics is not the kind of politics the people are looking for”.
SP Vice-President Kiranmoy Nanda also did not rule out the possibility of a conspiracy that Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) were “managed” to favour the BJP’s win.
“I think it is a very big conspiracy. The EVM conspiracy theory raised Mayawati should also be looked into,” said Nanda.
Asked about the alliance, he said: “I don’t think the alliance was a mistake; but what happened to the Congress’ core voters? Why did that just vanish?
Following initial differences between two parties, the alliance between SP and Congress was sealed after Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Rahul Gandhi’s intervention.