Prayagraj: Adding insult to injury, Congress candidates lost their deposits in both Allahabad and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats in Prayagraj, a region traditionally considered a Congress fortress.
In Uttar Pradesh – the most politically significant state – the only saving grace for Congress was Raebareli, the seat won by Sonia Gandhi. In most of the other 79 parliamentary constituencies, the grand old party was decimated to humiliating lows.
Particularly in Allahabad and Phulpur, Congress’ could not even field candidates from its own cadre for the crucial seats.
Yogesh Shukla, who crossed over from BJP days before filing nomination, was fielded from Allahabad seat. Pankaj Niranjan, the son-in-law of Apna Dal faction’s Krishna Patel, was given Congress ticket from Phulpur.
Both leaders failed to make any impact and subsequently lost their deposits.
Shukla got a meager 3.59 percent of the total votes polled in Allahabad, Niranjan’s vote share stood at a pitiably low of 3.35 percent in Phulpur.
According to the Election Commission’s guidelines, a candidate loses their deposit if they fail to win at least 1/6th (16.67 percent) of the total votes polled in the constituency. Candidates contesting are required to submit Rs 25,000 as a security deposit.
It is said that the top Congress leadership foresaw the humiliating defeat of their candidates on both seats as neither party president Rahul Gandhi nor his sister and general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra campaigned for them.
Both the Lok Sabha seats voted in the penultimate phase of elections on May 12.
Taking moral responsibility of the defeat, party presidents of Prayagraj district and city units have offered their resignations.
“The kind of influence Congress used to enjoy in Allahabad is now vanishing from the hearts of the people. We are trying to find out the reason behind this change. We will try to once again take the party to the people,” party’s Prayagraj unit president Haseeb Ahmed said.
Phulpur was first represented by India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru after his victory in 1951 Lok Sabha elections, first polls after the nation secured independence. After Nehru’s demise, his sister Vijay Laxmi Pandit won two Lok Sabha elections in 1964 (bypoll) and 1967 from the constituency.
In 1969, Janeshwar Mishra of Samyukta Socialist Party won the by-poll in Phulpur sweeping the Congress for the first time.
Veteran actor Amitabh Bachchan, who was a good friend of Rajiv Gandhi, won the Allahabad seat for Congress in 1984 Lok polls. Bachchan had defeated former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna.
History took an unprecedented turn after 25 years when Bahuguna’s daughter and state cabinet minister, Rita Bahuguna Joshi, also a BJP turncoat, handed a humiliating defeat to the Congress candidate Allahabad.
With the district Congress office bearers taking responsibility and offering to quit, political pundits say, the grand old party’s hold will further deteriorate in the holy city.
Getting just one seat out of 80, despite Priyanka Gandhi being in-charge of the party’s fortunes in the eastern part, has been a massive blow for the Congress.
Rahul Gandhi losing Amethi to BJP’s Smriti Irani was one of the biggest takeaways of the 2019 polls. The seat – considered till now as a Nehru-Gandhi bastion – was represented by Rahul since 2004, however, he managed a massive victory from Kerala’s Wayanad.
The national picture was equally dismal for the Congress as they managed to bag just 52 seats, far behind BJP’s massive 303.