It was a day of a bit discomfort for Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, with UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav outrightly overshadowing him in the first roadshow after the alliance was announced between Samajwadi Party and the Congress for the upcoming UP polls.
Yadav, who recently “cycled” to the top in Samajwadi Party, snatching the crown from his father Mulayam Singh Yadav, emerged the hero in the “Vikas Yatra” with his wit, aggression and confidence of facing crowd, an art he enjoys better command on than his new-found “bhai” Rahul Gandhi.
Although both the leaders, dressed in white Kurta clubbed with black Nehru jackets, were together waving to the crowd from the roof of the especially-designed “Rath”, it was Akhilesh who got louder cheers and chantings than Gandhi.
What went wrong?
Rahul Gandhi was beaming with confidence and mercilessly slamming the opposition — principally the BJP, in the joint press conference before, Akhilesh took the centre stage.
While Rahul Gandhi showed a good hand at wordplay, coining the “3P” theory — progress, prosperity and peace — Akhilesh took it to a new level adding another “P” (people’s alliance). “Rahul ji used three Ps, I add another P to it to make it People’s alliance. An alliance that will win,” Akhilesh said amid claps of the media persons at the Hotel Taj.
Another area where Akhilesh camp proved superior was strategising the whole Yatra. It was very clear right from the beginning of the 7-km roadshow as to who the leader was, be it with flags, supporters or even the campaign song that was being played on the entire stretch. This was a point that saddened a lot of Congress workers sweating it out on the ground.
But the most important point and perhaps the biggest talked about was Rahul Gandhi’s “27 saal UP behaal” slogan.
“From attacking Akhilesh with ’27 saal UP behaal’ to dancing to the tunes of ‘kaam bolta hai’, all it took Rahul was an alliance,” I said in a very low tone to a fellow journalist friend. This then led to a discussion which ended with majority of them feeling that the move could hurt Congress nationally.
“Why would a national leader dance to the tunes of the leader of regional party. Today Congress doesn’t have any other option but to do it. This will hurt them, and particularly Rahul, in the long run,” said a senior journalist on board the media truck.
But after spending a day with the duo on road, my assessment is that the alliance, if handled properly, could pose a serious challenge to the BJP and the BSP, with the face of Akhilesh and the vote share of the Congress.
(Prashant Kumar is a senior correspondent with Times Now. Views expressed in the blog are his. The above post first appeared on the author’s blog page)