Recent conflicts between the two parties in MP have reduced the trust factor, with a spill-over effect in UP.
As all eyes are on seat sharing between Opposition parties of the I.N.D.I.A bloc in Uttar Pradesh, there are signals from the party insiders that the Congress’ two most powerful leaders (Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra) could be working at cross purposes in the state. According to both Congress and SP leaders, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra may be in pursuit to size down Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party.
However, Congress leaders refused to comment on the topic. Party leaders closely working with Priyanka Gandhi Vadra are presumed by SP’s top leadership to be working against the interests of the national Opposition alliance, which is seeking to overturn the government (run by the BJP) at the Centre. Moreover, what brings more substance to it are the vital statements being made by Congress’ Uttar Pradesh chief Ajay Rai, who has from day one been proposing to go solo in the coming Lok Sabha elections, angering a vast majority of SP leadership who have been promised by Rahul Gandhi an alliance under the umbrella of I.N.D.I.A.
The picture, perceived by Akhilesh’s advisors, is that Ajay Rai has directly been taking orders from Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. The whole act, according to party leaders, has confused the whole system of partnership between the two parties.
Political experts believe that the idea behind Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s practice of leveraging her state unit above SP could be that she wants to bring back the fortunes of Congress in the state by belting down the SP—playing the role reversal and doing the same as the SP did to it after the 1990s Mandal politics.
A political observer said, “Ajay Rai giving statements against SP should be taken seriously, as it is not possible that Congress’ central leadership on one side is reckoning SP as an important player and a potential partner in the coming national elections, and then there is a subsequent statement from a state chief who is openly denying to have such understanding.”
Notably, Rai has repeatedly said that his party does not rely on anyone’s mercy, adding that the Congress is strengthening its organisation on all the 80 Lok Sabha constituencies in Uttar Pradesh for the 2024 general elections. Such statements, according to sources, have annoyed the SP leadership, as they have been wanting to play a big brother role in the state by deciding the seat shares.
Experts, however, do not agree with such a political practice (by Priyanka Vadra) being productive, as the Congress has a much smaller existence in UP, which makes it unable to ride any kind of political tide in its favour.
A political expert said, “The goal of trying to cut SP down to size will be like axing your own foot. There is no dispute over BJP performing very well in the state as they have a robust election maachinery there. Antagonising SP, which is a very huge party in the state will eventually help the BJP. Just by fiery statements one doesn’t win elections. One needs to build cadre on the ground which the Congress has been missing on.”
In addition to that, recent conflicts between the two parties in Madhya Pradesh have also reduced the trust factor, which has a possibility of spill-over in Uttar Pradesh, making it a politically potential conflict state. As of now, the major Opposition parties are struggling to zero in on a proportionate seat-sharing formula.