Rahul’s loss to Akhilesh leaves a broader message

Majority of the country’s political analysts are preparing to interpret the below par performance of Congress party as a personal failure of Rahul Gandhi. The Congress has failed to get a sizable hold, despite Mr. Rahul Gandhi’s hard work in the state. Indian democracy’s dynasty politics sometimes brings such amusing outcomes. Now, the carefully brought up brand Rahul in Indian politics has got a setback in the largest political bastion.

            But the difference between the winner and the loser is not big if the underlying political environment is taken into account. Congress was undergoing an immediate demise when Rahul inflamed his party’s campaign in the last Lok Sabha elections. The party has almost doubled its tally this time from the verge of extinction in India’s largest state.

            Akhilesh Yadav enjoyed the better platform of having the well set up Samajwadi Party. On the other hand, political infrastructure of Congress as a party in UP was rather weak. This means that the charismatic battle between the two young leaders was not on an equal turf. Rahul’s neutral caste and religious appeal is a minus point in most states where caste and religious equations and combinations matters the most. Akhilesh had a built in advantage on this front if one perceives the election as a battle of personal charisma.

            Over the last couple of decades, Indian politics is witnessing a unique trend of pan- India leaders and parties, facing defeats from the regional rookies. Similarly, regional leaders like Narendra Modi and Mayawati are trying to acquire all India image without much success. When politics becomes highly regionalized, leaders with national appeal like Advani and Rahul are facing extinction threat. UP is not telling a different story. 

Majority of the country’s political analysts are preparing to interpret the below par performance of Congress party as a personal failure of Rahul Gandhi. The Congress has failed to get a sizable hold, despite Mr. Rahul Gandhi’s hard work in the state. Indian democracy’s dynasty politics sometimes brings such amusing outcomes. Now, the carefully brought up brand Rahul in Indian politics has got a setback in the largest political bastion.

            But the difference between the winner and the loser is not big if the underlying political environment is taken into account. Congress was undergoing an immediate demise when Rahul inflamed his party’s campaign in the last Lok Sabha elections. The party has almost doubled its tally this time from the verge of extinction in India’s largest state.

            Akhilesh Yadav enjoyed the better platform of having the well set up Samajwadi Party. On the other hand, political infrastructure of Congress as a party in UP was rather weak. This means that the charismatic battle between the two young leaders was not on an equal turf. Rahul’s neutral caste and religious appeal is a minus point in most states where caste and religious equations and combinations matters the most. Akhilesh had a built in advantage on this front if one perceives the election as a battle of personal charisma.

            Over the last couple of decades, Indian politics is witnessing a unique trend of pan- India leaders and parties, facing defeats from the regional rookies. Similarly, regional leaders like Narendra Modi and Mayawati are trying to acquire all India image without much success. When politics becomes highly regionalized, leaders with national appeal like Advani and Rahul are facing extinction threat. UP is not telling a different story.