The Congress Party's victory in Firozabad where actor-politician, Raj Babbar snatched the seat from the Samajwadi Party is being attributed to the Rahul Gandhi factor and the candidate's own charisma.
The Congress also emerged triumphant in Lucknow West Assembly constituency where the party renewed its political lease after a long gap of almost a quarter of a century. Both the seats were considered to be the political bastions of the Samajwadi Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party respectively.
The Congress win in Firozabad and Lucknow West comes in the wake of its poor performance in the other Assembly by-elections, particularly in Jhansi and Padrauna, which it had won in the 2007 UP Assembly polls. The seats were vacated after the sitting MLAs, Pradeep Jain Aditya and RPN Singh were elected to the Lok Sabha from Jhansi and Kushinagar respectively in May this year. Both are Ministers of State in the UPA Government. At both the places the Congress was placed third.
Talking to reporters at the UP Congress headquarters here, the State unit chief, Rita Bahuguna Joshi said the party had benefited from Mr. Gandhi's emphasis on developmental politics aimed at the uplift of all sections of the society.
Mr. Gandhi had addressed an election rally in support of Mr. Babbar in Firozabad – the first time since 1978 when a member of the Gandhi family had campaigned for a by-election in the State. The Congress General Secretary and the Amethi MP's canvassing had the desired affect on the party's poll fortunes.
Not only did Mr. Babbar get overwhelming support in Tundla and Firozabad Assembly segments of the constituency, he made considerable dent in the SP strongholds of Shikohabad and Jasrana segments. In the final outcome, Mr. Babbar's victory margin of 85,043 votes over his nearest rival, Dimple Yadav of the SP was more than the margin recorded by Ms. Yadav's husband and SP president, Mulayam Singh's son, Akhilesh Yadav in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.
The Congress' triumph in Lucknow West is also significant. The seat had come to be identified with the BJP ever since the Ram Mandir issue dominated the U.P. politics in the late 80s and early 90s.The sitting BJP MP from Lucknow, Lalji Tandon was the sitting MLA from here before he quit the seat in May.
The BJP's cause was defeated by the dissensions with Mr. Tandon being accused by a section of his partymen of leading the dissent against the party candidate, Amit Puri. On the flip side, the support of the Muslims and Brahmins enabled Shyam Kishore Shukla to regain the seat for the Congress after 1985.