Akhilesh and Rahul: Mr Earnest vs Mr Gimmick

Akhilesh Yadav  (L) and Rahul Gandhi

B Raman

The most significant aspect of the elections to the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly the results for which were announced on March 6, was not even the rout of the Congress Party, but the humiliation suffered by Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi in what has been described as their pocket boroughs of Rae Bareli and Amethi, says B Raman.

The Lucknow correspondent of the Deccan Herald has described this humiliation in the following words: “None, not even the “Nehru-Gandhi family,” would have expected such a drubbing even on its home turf of Rae Bareli and Amethi, represented in the Lok Sabha by Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul respectively.

The entire “family” had descended on the twin constituencies to ensure a smooth sailing for party candidates. Yet, the party’s performance was “pathetic.” The Congress, which had secured seven of the 10 assembly seats in Rae Bareli and Amethi, could win only two seats this time — Jagadishpur and Tiloi in the Amethi Lok Sabha constituency.

In Rae Bareli, it ceded all five seats to SP candidates by good margins. In three seats, the Congress nominees finished third, compounding its agony. The signals were ominous for the party from the very beginning of the campaign.

Priyanka was initially greeted by angry crowds, which complained that the local members of Legislative Assembly did not take any interest in the area’s development.”

The message that has come out loud and clear from UP as a whole as well as from these pocket boroughs is that the decline of the political influence of Sonia Gandhi has started and that the personality cult built around her, Rahul and Priyanka by the party functionaries has started dissipating.

The decline of the political influence of Sonia could be attributed to various factors: The decline in her health and the consequent public perception that she is already a leader of the passee and not of the future; the failure of Rahul to compensate for the decline in her political influence by building a political image and a political connectivity of his own, his tendency to depend on political gimmicks rather than on exciting ideas and a vision for the future which failed to establish an empathetic vibration with the people and the failure of the Congress government, and the local Congress leaders in UP to come up to the expectations of the people.

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