The Congress, which otherwise doesn't excite the psephologists nowadays, tasted a welcome success in Uttar Pradesh, politically India's most crucial state, in the 2009 Lok Sabha election.
Its seat tally went up to 21 (from nine in the 2004 Lok Sabha poll) while the vote-share jumped from 10 per cent to 18.2 per cent. The performance made the experts say that the age of Rahul Gandhi has come.
What happened in the next seven years since that election is something that everybody has seen. The 2009 show was the first and till now the last time Rahul Gandhi succeeded in inspiring the Congress in an electoral battle. The party though had lost six of its sitting MPs, but it also won 18 new ones. [BJP looks up to Kalyan Singh to take on Mayawati]
But how did the grand-old party succeed in 2009?
BSP did not fulfil voters' aspirations
The Congress gained in 2009 primarily because its opponents had made strategic mistakes. The BSP (20 seats) led by Mayawati had thought of doing the trick through its unique Brahmin-Dalit alliance like it did in the 2007 Assembly election but it did not happen this time. The reason was the BSP's failure in bringing development which had left both the upper-caste and Dalit voters disappointed. [Modi's team focuses on Up for a happier third anniversary]
Samajwadi Party erred in backing Kalyan Singh
The Samajwadi Party (23 seats) failed to dominate because its strategy to rope in Kalyan Singh, a senior backward caste leader, to woo those castes backfired. The Muslims, who stood as a support pillar for Mulayam Singh Yadav's party in the past, felt cheated since Singh, who had left the BJP then to form his own party, was the chief architect behind the demolition of the Babri mosque in December 1992.
BJP lost upper-caste voters to Congress
The BJP's problem lied in the fact that its plan to polarise the Hindu votes by allying with the Rashtriya Lok Dal did not deliver. Many upper-caste voters silently backed the Congress in that election. Also, the lack of a high-stature Brahmin leader in the BJP after the exit of former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee from the political arena worked to its disadvantage.