Whenever a journalist reports on the political mood of a place, chances are they have spoken to their cabdriver. So, when I had to take an Uber the other day, I, too, decided to gauge the Mood of the Nation. Does Rahul stand a chance against Modi, I asked my cabbie. No way, said the Übermensch. But, he added, if Priyanka were to campaign, Modi would be in trouble.
Clearly, the Congress party was listening in. Within 48 hours, it had announced Priyanka’s political debut. She is like Indira Gandhi, opined the guard next door, as he caught me on the way to the local Mother Dairy.
She is destined for greatness, said my mother’s domestic help, who had named her daughter Priyanka some 20 years ago. And, mind you, both of them voted for Modi in 2014.
Priyanka has been given charge of 41 out of UP’s 80 Lok Sabha seats. In 2014, the Congress didn’t put up a candidate in only one of these seats, Fatehpur Sikri. Excluding that, during the Modi Wave, the party averaged nearly 10% vote share in these Eastern UP seats.
Five years before that, the Congress contested 35 of the 41 seats and averaged more than 20% votes. Even in 2014, at the nadir of its popularity, the Congress got more than one lakh votes in 15 of these seats and more than 15% vote share in eight of them.