In Covid Ravaged UP, Congress-BJP Bank On Competitive “Seva” To Woo Voters Ahead of 2022 Polls

As the second wave of Coronavirus reached the rural parts of UP and raised alarms over a pandemic explosion, the Congress too sensed the opportunity and started a “Seva Satyagraha”.


The BJP and the Congress are involved in a competitive Seva (social service) of sorts to woo the voters in Uttar Pradesh ahead of the 2022 assembly polls. The outreach shows desperation among both the national parties though they have different reasons for the move.

The BJP wants to retain power in the crucial state while the Congress hopes to recover lost ground in UP which sends the maximum, 80 of the total 543 members in the Lok Sabha.

Going by a general belief that the party which holds power in the state has an advantage in the national polls, the outcome of the 2022 UP polls will have a bearing on the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Again, while the BJP wants to retain power at the Centre, the Congress along with the other opposition parties is trying hard to stop it in the tracks.

The BJP had won 71/80 Lok Sabha seats in the state in 2014 but its tally dipped to 62/80 in 2019. Before that, the saffron party had won 325/403 assembly seats in 2017 and installed Yogi Adityanath as chief minister.

Yet, the devastating second wave of Covid-19, during which lakhs of people were infected and thousands died, citizens struggled to get a bed, medicines and oxygen and even faced long queues to bury the dead bodies, exposed the government’s claims.

The suffering of people led to widespread criticism of the system on social media as images of dead bodies floating in the Ganga river or buried along river banks hit the headlines within the country and abroad.

There were also reports of some saffron party MLAs and MPs going public with their complaints against their own government.

The local panchayat polls held during the pandemic despite the Allahabad High Court’s objections allegedly took away the lives of over 1000 staff doing poll duty.

The local body poll results in areas like Gorakhpur (Yogi’s stronghold), Mathura (BJP’s focus area due to temple-mosque dispute) and Varanasi (PM Modi’s parliamentary constituency) went against the BJP’s expectations.

Taking note of public reactions, BJP chief JP Nadda reminded party functionaries of the slogan “Seva hi Sangathan” and urged them to become more visible and help people deal with the pandemic.

All these developments stirred the BJP’s central leadership and led to a review the party’s prospects in UP for two days in capital Lucknow where senior leaders obtained feedback from various functionaries.

Though the senior leaders later praised the government for controlling the pandemic, the review fueled speculation that changes in the party and the administration were on the cards.

But Yogi is a star campaigner for the BJP and a well-known face within the party.

Hence, a change in leadership seems unlikely though there are hints that former bureaucrat AK Sharma, considered a close aide of PM Modi, may be given a key role in the state administration.


As the second wave of Coronavirus reached the rural parts of UP and raised alarms over a pandemic explosion, the Congress too sensed the opportunity and started a “Seva Satyagraha” (resistance through social service) to serve the people.

Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi in charge of UP sent kits of 10 lakh medicines to the rural areas given poor health care system in the villages where even basic drugs to control normal viral fevers are not available.

The Home Isolation Corona Treatment Kit sent by the opposition party contains six medicine strips and carries instructions for the use of each medicine. The Congress will distribute the kits through its block presidents on the advice of the doctors and the first consignment have been sent to the districts around Lucknow. Besides, the party will also sanitize the villages under this drive and has sent the first consignment of 18,000 litres in areas around Lucknow.

Also Read: Chief Ministers Remind Centre To Lead Vaccination War Against COVID-19

Priyanka is communicating with the Panchayat representatives through personal letters where she has appealed to them to cooperate in the fight against the pandemic. Before this, the Priyanka had sent new year greeting cards to the village heads. In her letter to the Panchayat representatives, Priyanka has targeted the state government saying it is not concerned about saving the lives of the people but in saving the image of the leader.

She further wrote that it was unfortunate that despite being the largest vaccine producer, there is a shortage of vaccine in the country.

She noted that humanity demanded parties to rise above political differences and help all. Congressmen are busy taking the letter to the newly elected local body functionaries heads in the entire state in an attempt to amplify reach out.

The Congress had contested the local body polls with great fanfare but could not make much impact indicating the party needed to strengthen the organization which has been neglected for a long.

Still, Priyanka had asked the state unit to help people in whatever way they could during the pandemic.

The Congress has a tough road ahead in UP

The party made the mistake of joining hands with the Samajwadi Party for the 2017 assembly polls and as result could win just seven of the 100 seats it contested.

The party’s Lok Sabha tally in UP came down from 2 in 2014 to 1 in 2019.

Rahul, who is an MP from Wayanad in Kerala since 2019, too have sent oxygen concentrators and medicines to his former parliamentary constituency Amethi in a bid to win back the voters.

Public matters

Though both the BJP and the Congress have launched their respective Seva primarily due to electoral concerns, the drives have flagged the need for political parties to maintain regular contact with the voters and not just during a crisis.

While the saffron party can boast of a robust organization in UP, the Congress, which has limited resources, is trying to make up for the lack of it through a more humane approach.

The BJP has a brute majority in the state but the recent developments have indicated that there is a situation that needs a course correction.

Political campaigns may be big or small, strong or weak but in the end, it is the people who matter and the perceptions they form about a certain party or administration that will get reflected in the electoral choices they make on the day the ballots are cast.

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