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Priyanka's 'roadshow' draws eyeballs, but tough road ahead (News Analysis)

IANS  |  Lucknow 

On her first public after making the political debut as General Secretary, on Monday may have succeeded in drawing enough eye balls in the roadshow here but the road ahead may be arduous and

After seeing the response of the moribund party workers during the 17-km-long event, political observers say it would take much more than a mere show on streets to revive the fortunes in 44 seats of eastern Uttar Pradesh which will oversee.

While a team of party veterans and young leaders is working overtime to brief on what lies ahead, she has the task cut out that is daunting, keeping in mind the organisational structure which is in shambles and the beaten morale of the grassroot workers.

The party has been out of power in Uttar Pradesh for more than three decades. As the Modi juggernaut rolled in 2014, its woes only worsened.

A weak organisation seems to be her biggest challenge. And so while the district units of remain on paper, their existence and efficiency beyond that stands in serious doubt. Barring the big names in the (UPCC) that jostled to find a place next to the Gandhis on the flower-decked bus during the roadshow, the party has a huge paucity of good faces at district level.

"There are no 'karyakartas' (workers)... only netas (leaders) at the state level," rues a party activist at the office of the Congress in

Leaders like former UPCC Rita Bahuguna Joshi, the one-day-have migrated to greener or rather saffron pastures -- the former is the while Pal is a member of the

Forget, other parts of the state, the party is having chinks in the armour even in pocket boroughs like Amethi and Rae Bareli, where old loyalists like legislators and MLC have bid adieu to the party, jolting its prospects even in party strongholds, hitherto considered invincible.

Eastern UP, a task assigned to Priyanka Gandhi by her brother and Congress Rahul Gandhi, is the toughest region to win over, even the most overzealous party men admit.

There are 44 seats in all if the eastern UP (Poorvanchal) and Avadh region in which and Amethi fall under are taken together. And it is from here that (Varanasi) and Minister (Gorakhpur) come from.

The party is not cadre based and had once the support, largely from a cocktail of communities and castes, which have now slipped out of its hands, barring Muslims and upper castes cut up with the Putting back the caste matrix which worked in its favour for decades in an uphill task for the 47-year-old Priyanka Gandhi.

The SP-BSP alliance and the 10 per cent jobs and educational quota for the upper caste poor decided by the have put a spanner in the Congress works. While Priyanka Gandhi may carry an aura around her, the party is still facing a dearth of "winnable candidates" in almost all parliamentary constituencies. If it has to win back its core Dalit, Pasi and Muslim vote, it will have to convince them about its winning chances.

"Floating voters and minorities vote tactically and would throw in their lot with Congress if it puts up winnable faces but the truth is there aren't many," says Asif Qureshi, a party sympathiser from Chowk in old

The party had put up 105 candidates in the 2017 Assembly elections when it tied up with the and won just 7 seats. It contested all the seats in 2014 but won just two.

The onslaught on her husband Robert -- his clouded land deals and continued questioning by central agencies -- could put the Gandhi scion in an uncomfortable position as and when the issue crops up from the electorate.



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, February 11 2019. 20:14 IST