‘UP Ke Ladke’: Debate rages over Rahul and Akhilesh’s primary focus on ‘own seats’

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav. (Photo: IANS/@samajwadiparty)

New Delhi, May 18 (IANS) Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav, popularly known as ‘UP Ke Ladke’ (boys from UP), have garnered attention for their ‘limited joint appearances’ outside their respective Lok Sabha seats of Raebareli and Kannauj.

The two political scions seemed to be involved more in their efforts to protect their family turf in Uttar Pradesh.

While Akhilesh Yadav is contesting against BJP candidate Subrat Pathak in Kannauj, Rahul Gandhi is up against BJP’s Dinesh Pratap Singh in Raebareli.

Despite being allies in Uttar Pradesh for the ongoing Lok Sabha elections, their joint rallies or campaigns have been confined primarily to their own constituencies.

While they addressed a couple of joint rallies in other seats as well, such as in Amethi, Amroha, and Kanpur, the workers of both the Congress and SP were reportedly eager to see their leaders holding rallies in most of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

But they made it a point to prioritise their own constituencies.

In fact, even in Rahul Gandhi’s absence as a candidate, Amethi retains its allure as a prestige issue for the Gandhi family. By extending their collaboration to Amethi, Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav strategically positioned themselves to consolidate their support base and uphold the political legacy of the Gandhis, especially with the presence of a loyalist candidate — Kishori Lal.

Similarly, the Kanpur rally was clubbed with Kannauj, both the seats being close to each other. Critics say that the two leaders chose to address a rally in Muslim-dominated Amroha in a bid to send out a message to the community.

Critics also say the two leaders appeared to be focused more on efforts to protect their political turf and ensure their own electoral survival rather than adopting a more expansive strategy to challenge the ruling party across other Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh.

At a time when the opposition parties are seeking to consolidate their support base and present a formidable challenge to the ruling BJP in the Lok Sabha polls, the limited collaboration between Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav sent a message that the two leaders were focusing solely on somehow managing to win their own seats.

Needless to say that Rahul Gandhi, the scion of the Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty, is keen to protect his mother Sonia Gandhi’s turf Raebareli, a traditional Congress stronghold for several terms.

The simultaneous presence of Sonia Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, and Robert Vadra in Raebareli during a recent rally in support of Rahul Gandhi did indeed underscore the Gandhis’ single-minded focus on grabbing this Lok Sabha seat.

Meanwhile, Akhilesh Yadav, the former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, is eyeing to corner the Kannauj seat, which has been a stronghold of the Samajwadi Party.

Both Amethi and Kannauj have historically been considered safe seats for Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav, respectively. By concentrating their efforts in these areas, they are aiming to ensure their victory and maintain their political relevance.

As prominent leaders representing different political parties, their collaboration on more seats outside Raebareli and Kannauj could have signaled a broader opposition alliance aimed at countering the dominance of the ruling party.

However, by restricting their joint efforts to their own constituencies along with a couple of other seats, they risked diluting the potential impact of their partnership, failing to leverage their combined strength to mobilise voters across the state.

Politics is not just about actions; it’s also about how those actions are perceived by the public.

In this case, the perception that Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav were primarily focused on their own Lok Sabha seats could indeed send a message of self-interest or lack of commitment to the broader political goals.

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