UP lesson: Party workers more important than leaders

Why did the Congress do badly in Uttar Pradesh? The answer is simple: it had a weak organisation. A similar answer explains the BJP’s woes also.

And why did the Samajwadi Party (SP) perform so well in Uttar Pradesh? Because it had a strong organisational structure.

Popular leaders and big rallies attract the media glare but one requires an organisational structure at the grassroots to transform popular mood into votes.

This is one of the basic principles of electoral politics that many of our political parties tend to ignore. And they pay the price.

Both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have lot to introspect.

A comparison between Akhilesh Yadav, son and scion of Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, and Rahul Gandhi, scion of the Gandhi family, could help in understanding the Uttar Pradesh riddle.

Akhilesh may not be popular nationally as much as Rahul Gandhi but the fact remains that the former’s efforts to revive the SP’s fortunes were backed by a strong organisational network.

Both young leaders worked really hard. There is no taking away from Rahul Gandhi the credit due to him.

The BJP too tried all the tricks in its bag including getting Uma Bharti, a backward leader and Hindutva hardliner, to campaign in the state.

But the party’s weak organisational structure, now collapsing under the weight of its too many leaders, did it no good.

It is clear there was a strong anti-incumbency factor in Uttar Pradesh. The BJP and Congress were far ahead of SP in ‘star power’.

But when it came to transforming popular sentiment to votes, SP took advantage of the anti-incumbency mood in India’s most populous state.

The BSP faced the wrath of people due to poor governance as well as the fissures in party at the lowest level.

The knee jerk reaction of Mayawati as she got rid of a number of ministers over the last year in a bid to reclaim lost ground shook the party structure, resulting in its drubbing.

For both the Congress and the BJP, the challenge ahead of the 2014 general elections will be to rebuild their organisational structure — if they want to be an important player in the state which elects 80 MPs.

This is a huge challenge as members of both parties stand demoralised in wake of the rout.

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