UP: Nitish plans alliance with Cong, Priyanka may be CM face
Having loaned his poll strategist Prashant Kishore to the Congress, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar is working overtime to roll out a plan to dent arch-rival BJP’s prospects in the upcoming assembly polls in the politically significant state of Uttar Pradesh. The suave leader is eyeing BJP’s votebank of upper-caste Hindus, non-Yadav OBCs and the landholding Jat community in the state. The state goes to polls in early 2017.
Poll strategist Prashant Kishore, who had a long session with the Gandhi family sometime back, among various measures to revive electoral fortunes of the Congress presented the idea of projecting Priyanaka Vadra as party’s chief ministerial candidate in Uttar Pradesh.
Kishore is of the opinion that they (a Congress-led alliance) could enter the poll arena with three prominent faces – Priyanka Vadra (representing Brahmins and upper-castes), Rashtriya Lok Dal leader Jayant Chaudhary (representing the Jat community) as her deputy and Nitish Kumar (representing Kurmi and other non-Yadav OBCs) as their mentor.
The strategist is reported to be of the opinion that if they were able to make an impact on the aforementioned communities, they would get the votes of minority community in bonus on whichever seat they emerge in winnable position in a quadrangular contest. Towards this end, the Congress plans to make four important appointments in the state in the coming days – state unit president, legislature party leader, campaign committee chairman and general secretary incharge. The positions would be divided among Brahmin, Thakur, non-Yadav OBC and non-Jatav Dalit.
Sources said that Prashant Kishore has projected that using his roadmap they could go onto win 100 seats in the prevailing situation and position could only improve from here. If that were to happen there could nothing stopping the Congress-JD(U) alliance from power sharing arrangement either with the Samajwadi Party or the BSP. “This would be significant as they are already in power under a similar arrangement in neighbouring and politically equally significant state of Bihar,” said sources.
If the plan gets rolled out, it would be the first time somebody from the Nehru-Gandhi family would enter state electoral process. Right from the time of Jawaharlal Nehru, scions of the family have entered only the lower house of Parliament – Lok Sabha except when Indira Gandhi entered Rajya Sabha following her father’s death in 1964.
Sources close to Janata Dal (United) said that at the party’s national council meet in Patna on April 23, Nitish Kumar, who was anointed party president last week, would be authorized to start the process of merger of JD(U) with Chaudhary Ajit Singh Rashtriya Lok Dal and thereafter negotiate a pre-poll alliance with the Congress for Uttar Pradesh.
The BJP on the other hand is fighting hard to retain its phenomenal performance during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, when it won 71 out of the 80 seats in the state with another two going to its alliance partner Apna Dal. Given the prevailing situation in the state, party insiders claim, that it would be difficult to even hold half of the assembly segments the party led in 2014 polls. To consolidate on non-Yadav OBC votes, BJP leadership recently appointed Phulpur MP Keshav Prasad Maurya as state unit president.