Lucknow : With sudden rise in the electoral stocks of Congress in popular perception when they are bringing out a mega 'road show' in Lucknow today, has given the ruling Samajwadi Party some 'political pain' as the grand old party may dent its support base among Muslims. Interestingly in the 2012 Assembly polls, Rahul Gandhi had led an aggressive poll campaign against the Samajwadi Party. Then the SP had not taken much notice of the Congress campaign and targeted the misrule and corruption of the BSP government headed by Mayawati. In 2012, aiming to dent the OBC vote bank of the SP, the Congress had given large number of tickets to OBC candidates. The then Union Steel minister Beni Prasad Verma, now back in SP, had led the Congress campaign to wean the OBCs into the party.
On the appointment of Raj Babbar as UP Congress Committee chief and projection of former Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit as the CM candidate, the SP has confined itself to criticising the Congress for drafting ‘imported leaders’ in UP. However, the Congress is likely to give a grand show today by bringing out a mega road show in Lucknow where all its leaders including Raj Babbar, Sheila Dixit, Sanjay Singh and Pramod Tiwari will be present to give its first thrust in their 'Mission 2017.' “The tired and retired leaders, who have no understanding of the politics of UP, have been imported by the Congress staking claim in the state’s politics’’ SP spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary had said. In retrospect however, a SP leader opined, “Congress has been in political oblivion for the last three decades and has no base in UP. Yet, the party can prove to be a `vote katwa’ in certain areas of the state especially among the Muslims.’’ Before the advent of Congress with a bang on the electoral scene of UP, there were only two major claimants of the Muslim vote bank - the SP and the BSP.
Now the Congress too will compete for its share in the 18 percent votes of the minority community. What is more worrisome for the SP is that political outfits of Muslim community will also be in the fray and are sure to eat into the Muslim vote bank adding to the worries of the ruling party. Rashtriya Ulema Council, Peace Party, Muslim Majlis have already announced to form a front while Hyderabad-based All India Majlis Ittehedual Musalmeen is also planning to contest all Muslim -dominated and other seats with the slogan of ‘Jai MIM, Jai Bheem’ in an attempt to woo the dalit community. Besides, Quami Ekta Dal (QED) of mafia don Mokhtar Ansari is also forging an alliance of like minded parties to oppose the Samajwadi Party in next Assembly elections. Coupled with the rise of the popular perception of the Congress, the sudden decline in poll fortunes of Bahujan Samaj Party in public perception following the desertion of senior leaders has also added to the worries of the SP. “If the poll prospects of the BSP dips any further, then the SP stands to lose. If the SP has to win the number of seats to at least place it at a striking distance from power, then there should be a triangular contest and the BSP should poll close to 25-26 percent. Otherwise, it will be difficult to stop the BJP from capturing power in UP in the 2017 polls,” said a SP leader, who is also a party candidate from an east UP district for the 2017 Assembly polls.