The outcome of the November 7 by-elections in Uttar Pradesh has handed the Congress a chance to emerge as an alternative to the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) at the expense of the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party, which have been routed.
Given that the party has won the Firozabad Lok Sabha and Lucknow West Assembly seats, and notched up an increase in its vote share in eight other Assembly seats, the mood in the Congress camp is upbeat.
However, much will depend on how the party is going to sustain the new vigour to achieve Rahul Gandhi’s “Mission 2012” in the State.
Though the Congress’s vote share has dipped in four constituencies, compared with the 2007 Assembly elections, it has gone up in seven other seats. In Firozabad, the party polled a mere 6,341 votes in the Lok Sabha elections held earlier this year; this time round, the tally has shot up to 3,12,728 votes, with its candidate Raj Babbar winning the seat.
But again, six Congress candidates have lost their deposits in the Assembly by-elections from Etawah, Lalitpur, Jhansi, Padrauna, Kol Asla and Rari.
In Powayan, the Congress polled 31,322 votes in the 2007 Assembly elections, but in the by-elections, its candidate has garnered 44,322 votes. In Lucknow West, the party came third with 11,011 votes in 2007; but this time, it has won the seat with 32,166 votes. The party polled 8,794 votes in Isauli in 2007, but has come second this time, polling 32,686 votes. In Bhartana, its tally has shot up from 3,270 in 2007 to 31,166 in 2009; in Lalitpur from 4,741 to 29,479; and in Hainser Bazaar from 3,462 to 39,018. At Rari, the increase is negligible though: from 4,755 to 4,880.
The party’s vote share has declined in Jhansi, Padrauna, Etawah and Kol Asla. Jhansi and Padrauna were represented by Union Ministers Pradeep Jain and R.P.N. Singh before they were elected to the Lok Sabha in 2009.
Now the Congress is focussing on strengthening the organisation and increasing the membership. The organisational elections will start in January next. This apart, the party is determined to expose the shortcomings of the Mayawati government.
“Armed with the Rahul Gandhi factor, the Congress will expose the mismanagement of the Mayawati government,” says UPCC spokesperson Subodh Srivastava. The Congressmen also view the BSP’s sweep in the by-elections with scepticism, as Chief Minister Mayawati has been accused of having misused official machinery.