By Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay
After maintaining a judicious silence in Uttar Pradesh for a month after the results of the assembly polls left the Congress party in disarray, Rahul Gandhi has sought to send the message that his interest in the state has not waned despite being unable to secure any significant returns for his travails over the past few years.
But in this canter that Gandhi has begun, lies a potential danger to the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre. Ironic though it may sound, but the Gandhi scion’s efforts to continue efforts for revival of the Congress in UP, may irk the Samajwadi Party the moment it sees actual resurrection of the party.
This leaves the Congress general secretary with little option but to pay lip service to the party’s revival. Tokenism appears to be the only strategy of ensuring that leaders and workers do not abandon ship leading to further erosion in the support for the party.
At least on more than a couple of occasions in the recently concluded first part of the Budget Session of Parliament, the government was bailed out by the SP. In coming months, the UPA would be further dependant on Yadav father-son duo both in Parliament and in the presidential polls.
But this support would be dependent on two factors: Firstly, administrative support of the Centre in tiding over financial and other necessities. Secondly, the SP will have to be convinced that none of the Rahul Gandhi’s actions jeopardises the SP.
Though it is too early for even a nascent political movement in UP after the SP secured the largest ever majority since 1985 when the Congress won 269 seats, political parties must be on the prowl to seize the slightest of opportunities that might come their way.
This is something that the Yadavs will not accept from accept from the Congress as they would expect the party to lay-off UP as a price for the support at the Centre. This explains the politically low-key revival of political activity by Rahul Gandhi.
This explains two decisions: Firstly, the meetings are being held in New Delhi and not in the state capital or in any other politically significant UP city. Secondly, Gandhi is keeping interactions restricted to within the party – he is talking only to the converted.
In the situation that Rahul Gandhi is personally and the political compulsions of the UPA, this is probably the best strategy. The fire can be kept smouldering in the state by keeping his herd together. At the same time the SP will be happy that Gandhi is not exactly treading on political terrain.
The media might find these meetings exciting and generate eye-balls with hyped reportage. But besides being club-house type meetings, these are unlikely to yield anything of significance – even when it comes to the basic grievance of Congress candidates who lost: that they were done in by the forked tongues of party leaders and central ministers.