The Congress’ much-needed review of the poll debacle appears to be going down the same road it has taken after successive defeats. Far from the introspection that surgeries that we heard after the poll debacle in the recently concluded 2017 UP Assembly elections, the Congress has chosen to point fingers at anyone and everyone – including its alliance partner.
Several rounds of deliberations within the party has come to this conclusion – that the alliance with the Samajwadi Party, lack of coordination between various party units, a mismatch with poll strategist Prashant Kishor’s team and failure to take forward campaigns like Kisan Maangpatras were responsible for the party’s crushing defeat.
According to an Economic Times report, after three rounds of stocktaking, the Congress has concluded that the alliance with the SP damaged the party and made it appear like a ‘Muslim party’.
The review and planning meeting was held at the Congress war room in Delhi and UPCC headquarters in Lucknow, on April 15 and 16.
The meeting was attended by 103 district and 129 presidents from all across UP and was chaired by AICC general secretary in charge of UP, Ghulam Nabi Azad and UPCC president Raj Babbar.
Following this, two lower-level meetings were held where participants were asked to give honest feedback on the role of various Congress departments and weaknesses in the campaign besides suggestions for improvement.
The party felt that it would have done much better if it contested alone. The “unnatural” alliance with the SP made many perceive Congress as a ‘Muslim party’ and alienated large segment of voters.
On the contrary, the RSS reached door-to-door with Hindu identity messages which the SP-Congress failed to effectively counter. There is also considerable anger over this alliance being put together in secrecy, with little consultation with party workers.
According to the report, the party also felt that Brahmin voters were antagonised when the Sheila Dikshit project made way for an alliance with the SP. Meanwhile, Dalits who were Congress supporters also decisively turned away as Yadavs are the chief tormentors in the state.
The disparity with Prashant Kishor’s team has been cited as another key reason for the defeat. Most candidates complained that the Team PK gave little or no support to them, was absent in most constituencies and ended up complicating things for candidates.
The party candidates also believe that the Congress campaign ’27 saal, UP behaal’ backfired after the alliance. Kisan Maangpatras launched before alliance begun to create a buzz but had to be abandoned post-alliance. Farmers, candidates said, felt cheated and turned against the Congress.