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Has the Congress scored a self-goal by inducting a radical cleric in the party in Uttar Pradesh?

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Desperate to woo the Muslim vote bank, the Priyanka Gandhi led Congress in Uttar Pradesh yet again joined hands with a politician and Islamic cleric, Tauqeer Raza Khan, who was earlier booked for issuing threats against the Hindu community and derogatory remarks against the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi (Pic. Courtesy ANI)

The Congress did not seem to have learnt any lesson from the humiliating results in the Bengal polls. The party along with the Left allied with a radical Muslim cleric, Abbas Siddiqui of the Indian Secular Front. The combination-Samyukt Morcha had managed to win only a seat in the West Bengal polls.

Desperate to woo the Muslim vote bank, the Priyanka Gandhi led Congress in Uttar Pradesh yet again joined hands with a politician and Islamic cleric, Tauqeer Raza Khan, who was earlier booked for issuing threats against the Hindu community and derogatory remarks against the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. Raza joined the party on Wednesday. This particular move has not gone down well with a section of senior Congress leaders. A senior Congress functionary said that the move would  "only provide more firepower to the BJP against the Congress."

The Congress had been desperately trying to get a slice of vote of Muslims and backwards, particularly Dalits. Priyanka Gandhi has also been targeting women voters by promising 40 per cent tickets to women candidates. It, however, received a body blow when Priyanka Maurya, the face of "Ladki hoon, Lad Sakti Hun(I am girl and I can fight), who hailed from the backward community is likely to join BJP for being denied a party ticket.

However, political pundits observed that disarray in the Opposition camp could work in favour of the BJP. The saffron brigade was hoping that the 17-19 per cent Muslim votes in the state could split between the Congress, Assaduddin led AIMIM and BSP. Similarly, the 39 per cent OBC votes could witness a split between SP and BSP. While the majority of the 7-9 per cent Yadav vote bank might remain loyal to Akhilesh Yadav, the non-Yadav OBC and MBC could split between the Akhlesh and Mayawati. Incidentally, BSP chief, Mayawati, who decided against contesting has been touring the state to consolidate her Dalit vote bank. It may be recalled that riding high on the Modi wave, BJP had bagged over 40 per cent of the state's vote share.

A senior BJP leader claimed that any party getting over 35 per cent of the vote share would form the government. Acknowledging that the BJP could "lose" nearly 100 seats from its 312 tally, the functionary claimed that it would "comfortably form a government." 

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