The Congress party which in many people's opinion is synonymous with the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty played its trump card with the induction of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra as the party's General Secretary of Eastern Uttar Pradesh on January 23, 2019, - mere months before the elections.
Priyanka's formal entry into politics at the peak of the electoral season was deemed as a 'game-changer' for the Congress party as she became the de-facto in-charge for the campaign in all assembly seats in half of the politically-critical state, including dominion over the Gandhi bastions of bastion Amethi and Raebareli, after the party's historic low performance of 44 seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
However, despite the newly minted Congress leader's extensive campaign across the state, Republic Media Network's double exit poll projection - if it turns out to be true - has dismantled the Priyanka narrative.
Seat share range projection:
Seat share projection:
CVoter Vote-share projection:
Here's why Priyanka Gandhi's political presence crumbled:
Congress' Uttar Pradesh aspirations first came crashing down after facing exclusion from Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi Party (SP) and Mayawati's BSP Mahagathbandhan, and the consequence was seen in the predictions of Republic Media Network's double exit poll.
In the state of 80-seats, the Congress party is contesting a triangular electoral battle with the SP-BSP-RLD alliance and the BJP that swept the state by securing 73 seats in the 2014 Parliamentary elections leaving five with SP and two with Congress. Whereas, in terms of vote-share, although SP and BSP contested the state individually, their combined vote-share of 41.8% was extremely close to BJP's 42.30%. The Congress party managed to hold on to only two seats- Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi at Rae Bareli and Amethi respectively.
As per the Jan Ki Baat and CVoter predictions, the electoral contest is witnessed only between the BJP and Mahagathbandhan with Jan Ki Baat predicting NDA to secure between 46-47 seats, 21-32 for Mahagathbandhan and only 2-4 for Congress. While according to CVoter NDA is predicted to win 38 seats, Mahagathbandan 40 and Congress only 2.
Priyanka Gandhi made a staggering admission amid the Lok Sabha elections, saying that the Congress party was fielding its candidates merely to cut the vote share of BJP.
Confessing that the strategy of Congress was to cut BJP's vote with the sole motive of defeating the BJP, the AICC Uttar Pradesh East General Secretary explicitly stated that 'politics is not only for winning' already admitting the party's defeat, the repercussions of which were reflected in the projections where the party is shown to repeat its 2014 Lok Sabha performance.
She said, "Politics is not only for winning. My strategy is very clear we have to defeat BJP in 2019 elections. Congress will only cut the votes of BJP and not of the Ghathbandhan."
Opining on the same, the BJP said that the grand old party has reduced itself to 'Vote-Katua-Party'
While speaking on her reasons for not allying with the Congress, Mayawati had said that Congress votes don't transfer favourably for the SP-BSP. Between Priyanka Vadra's vote-cutting theory and Mayawati's denial, as per the exit polls the BSP chief has got it right.
According to CVoter vote-share predictions, Congress is predicted to stay the lowest with 11.4%, while BJP is predicted to garner 44.1% and SP-BSP-RLD projected 41.9%
Rumours, speculations and the lure of an intense electoral battle fell flat after Congress fielded Ajay Rai instead of Priyanka Gandhi on the Varanasi seat against PM Modi.
Her refusal to contest the seat reasoning 'too much work' was only perceived as the Congress party's trump card accepting defeat. She called it a 'collective decision of the party' and pinned the blame on the Congress president and brother Rahul Gandhi.
Inability to place a stronger candidate in opposition to PM Modi after he won the seat with a gigantic margin of almost 3.7 lakh votes portrayed the party to be in a weaker position.
Apart from electoral reasons, Priyanka Gandhi's husband Robert Vadra often dragged her amid controversies.
Rahul Gandhi's brother-in-law Robert Vadra had been summoned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in relation to the money-laundering case for his land-dealings and alleged possession of foreign assets.
On May 10, Republic Media Network's investigative team reported on Vadra's land dealings which resulted in sensational on-camera admissions, revelations, and confessions about Vadra's land deals by brothers Mahesh Nagar and Lalit Nagar.
The first expose in Part 1 of the Operation brought forth the admissions of Robert Vadra’s alleged property dealer that Vadra's Bikaner deal had a forgery stain. In the second expose in Part 1 of Operation Vadra, Mahesh Nagar confessed that Robert Vadra had used different fronts and names for his land deals.
Priyanka Gandhi had even dropped her husband off at the Enforcement Directorate’s office in New Delhi on the first day of his questioning back in February. When asked about the matter by the reporters, she extended support for her family, saying “He is my husband, he is my family...I support my family.
While it was portrayed as a game-changing strategic move to unleash Priyanka Gandhi in the biggest state, as per the exit polls, her presence was hardly felt either in U.P or at at the national level.