Lucknow, March 11: With the election results giving more seats to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Uttar Pradesh, the anxiety in the SP camp is becoming more than obvious.
The dejected SP workers have replaced the life-size cutout of Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi outside the office of Akhilesh Yadav. They have replaced Rahul’s portrait with SP Patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, the party's 77-year-old founder, whose son Akhilesh Yadav is running for a second consecutive term as Chief Minister.
Akhilesh Yadav’s insistence on allying with the Congress was one of the reasons for an epic war between Akhilesh Yadav and his father that placed their party dangerously close to splitting ahead of the election in Uttar Pradesh, seen as a bellwether for the national election of 2019.
They managed to reconcile- just about- in time for the campaign, and the Chief Minister conducted some public meetings accompanied by Rahul Gandhi, the 46-year-old Vice President of the Congress.
At the Samajwadi Party office, slogans that bound the two young leaders together have also disappeared.
The BJP has secured more than a two-thirds majority in the State for the first time in the recent political history of India. The party is set to go past 300 seats in UP.
As the forecasts were broadcast, Akhilesh Yadav said that he was open to a new partnership with rival Mayawati, whom he displaced as Chief Minister in 2012. She has not commented on his revelation, but the BJP described it as a sign of the Samajwadi Party's "desperation."
The Congress, which has sequentially lost key states since the general election of 2014, has been reduced to a bit player in Uttar Pradesh; the collaboration with the Samajwadi Party which made it a junior partner helped rescue it from the sidelines to some extent.
With the Congress staring at a drubbing in Uttar Pradesh, the grand old party today admitted that “the bad loss hurts” and said it needs to do “fundamental restructuring” in the state, calling for hard decisions.
While the Congress said the “loss” in the Hindi heartland it once ruled will be assessed, it defended party leadership saying it should not be judged over a short span.
The Congress also highlighted its performance in Punjab, where it is leading over SAD-BJP combine and AAP.
“Yes, UP is a bad loss, it hurts...I agree that, in UP, we need fundamental restructuring thinking for the Congress as a whole. These have to be hard, tough decisions about strategy,” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said.
Another Congress leader Shakeel Ahmad attributed the party’s poor show in the politically crucial state to “public mood” and said its performance will be “scrutinised”.
He, however, stressed that Congress’ gains in Punjab and likeliness of the party forming the government in Goa, ruled by the BJP until before the elections, should not be ignored.
“We are forming the government in Punjab...In Goa, the BJP is not in a position to form the government. There is a possibility that we may form the government there,” the former Union Minister said.