Priyanka, accompanied by Rajya Sabha MP Deepender Hooda, was the first politician to proceed towards Lakhimpur Kheri. However, she was stopped a few kilometres away in Sitapur and detained in an official guest house. She was released on October 6 after her brother Rahul Gandhi reached Sitapur and the two siblings left for Lakhimpur Kheri to meet the bereaved families of the four farmers who were mowed down allegedly by the vehicles of local MP and Union minister of state for home Ajay Misra Teni on the fateful day.
Rahul Gandhi was accompanied by Congress chief ministers of Punjab and Chhattisgarh – Charanjit Singh Channi and Bhupesh Baghel respectively. Punjab Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu also started a march to Lakhimpur Kheri demanding arrest of Ajay Misra’s son Ashish Misra Teni.
There are other Congress leaders such as former Union minister Salman Khurshid, Rajya Sabha MP Digvijaya Singh and former Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar who have lent their vocal support to Priyanka’s dare to the Uttar Pradesh administration.
Rajasthan Congress MLA and former deputy CM Sachin Pilot had left for Lakhimpur Kheri but was intercepted at Moradabad.
He tweeted on Wednesday: “This evening @AcharyaPramodk ji and I were detained in Moradabad while on route to Lakhimpur Kheri. We didn’t break any provisions of the law. These undemocratic steps of UP Govt will not deter us. We’ll raise our voice for justice for the deceased farmers and their families.”
This evening @AcharyaPramodk ji & I were detained in Moradabad while on route to Lakhimpur Kheri. We didn’t break… https://t.co/daSBcvL6fi
— Sachin Pilot (@SachinPilot) 1633534586000
Samajwadi Party (SP) president and former UP CM Akhilesh Yadav was detained outside his house in Lucknow on October 4 while he was leaving for Lakhimpur Kheri. However, after Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka met the families of the deceased farmers, all politicians were allowed by the administration to go to the village. Akhilesh reached the village on Thursday.
Though Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati did not, as usual, but party general secretary and Rajya Sabha MP Satish Chandra Misra left for Lakhimpur Kheri on Thursday. He posted a Koo before leaving for the place.
BSP leader Satish Chandra Misra before leaving for Lakhimpur Kheri on Thursday. Photo: Koo/@satishmisrabsp
Not to be left behind, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh visited the village on Wednesday. AAP will also contest the 2022 Uttar Pradesh assembly election.
After initially stopping every party leader from visiting Lakhimpur Kheri for two days till October 5, the Yogi Adityanath government of the state made it free for all from the next day. Led by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, and later Rahul Gandhi, the Congress has sought to derive the maximum political mileage out of the tragic incident in the hope of reaping its benefit in the next year’s state poll.
The Congress hopes to see its fortune revive after 37 years in the most populous state of the country. The 2022 UP assembly election might witness a four-cornered contest with a rejuvenated Congress.
If the Congress improves its tally, it might be at the expense of the other two prominent opposition parties – SP and BSP. It might split the anti-BJP votes, helping the ruling party.
Among the four largest political parties in UP, the Congress has stood at the lowest spot in terms of both the number of seats won and the percentage of vote share garnered in all the last three assembly elections.
In 2017, while the BJP won 312 of the total 403 seats and fetched 39.67 per cent of the votes; SP won 47 seats and garnered 21.82 per cent of the votes; BSP won 19 seats and got 22.23 per cent of the votes; and Congress won 7 seats and received 6.25 per cent of the votes.
In 2012, SP won 224 seats and fetched 29.13 per cent of the votes. Akhilesh Yadav became the CM after the election results were announced. BSP won 80 seats and garnered 25.91 per cent of the votes, BJP won 47 seats and got 15 per cent of the votes; while Congress won 28 seats and received 11.65 per cent of the votes.
In 2007, BSP got 206 seats and received 30.43 per cent of the votes. Mayawati became the CM and completed the full term. SP came second by winning 97 seats and getting a vote share of 25.43 per cent, BJP won 51 seats and garnered 16.97 per cent of the vote share; while Congress won 22 seats and fetched 8.61 per cent of the votes.
In the first election held in 2002, after UP was divided and a separate state of Uttarakhand was carved out of it in 2001, SP won 143 seats and garnered 25.37 per cent of the votes; BSP won 98 seats and got 23.06 per cent of the votes, BJP won 88 seats and fetched 20.08 per cent of the votes; while Congress won 25 seats and received 8.96 per cent of the votes.
The Congress won the last assembly election in 1985 and remained in power till 1989. ND Tiwari was its last CM in UP. It was also when neither SP nor BSP had come into existence.
The Congress won 269 of the total 425 seats and got 39.25 per cent of the votes; Lok Dal won 84 seats and received 21.43 per cent of the votes; and Janta Party won 20 seats and garnered 5.60 per cent of the votes. The BJP, which was formed in 1980 and had contested its just second assembly election in 1985, won 16 seats and fetched 9.83 per cent of the votes.
While the Congress would split the opposition votes if its tally improves in the upcoming UP assembly election, there is also a probability that it may eat into the BJP votes. In that case, the Congress would better its performance at the cost of the BJP. However, it remains to be seen to what extent the Congress along with SP and BSP damage the prospects of the BJP in 2022.