They wanted to capture the glorious past by reestablishing the emotive connect with the people, and so-called master strategist Prasant Kishor scripted a sustained campaign that petered out in weeks.
The clamour for khats should have been as clear as the writing on the wall. It was not. Crores of signatures of farmers were collected, yet Rahul Gandhi could not turn the signatures into promises of avowed support to the Congress party. Critics would laugh away the attempt of "khat pe charcha" as a spent cartridge.
The advantages of an early start of campaign designed to revive the lost fortunes of the Congress in Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state of the country, got lost in larger political ambitions versus the ground reality.
The ground reality possibly forced the Congress to remove the tainted glasses, and attempts to broker an understanding with the SP started. Yet again, the man who brought together arch rivals Nitish and Lalu on the same platform played the pivotal role. After all the tug of war and the division within the family, an agreement was reached upon and the Congress given a share much beyond their capability.
Though CM Akhikesh Yadav has been harping that he has a large heart and accommodated the friend... the Congress with a big heart... the fact on the ground was possibly different.
The Samajwadis despite Netaji's non-confirmation joined hands with an age-old foe, the Congress, but the blunder was conceding too much.
The Congress, emboldened with an early start and hopeful of a comeback, had already projected Sheila Dikshit as CM candidate. But when its dreams met ground reality, she got dumped for Akhilesh.
A fuming Sheila later said in an interview that Rahul must be given time to mature. Was it a retaliation with clinical precision?
Akhilesh, smarting from the wounds of the bloody family conflict, took the decision to concede too many seats to the Congress, much against his father's wish. The two parties buried the hatchet - at least in public.
The Congress tried skirting the slogans it had scripted earlier, such as "27 saal UP behaal" and new ones like "UP ko ye saath pasand hai" were coined.
Public memory is short - that is an overwhelming thought that plagues political thinking in the country. Both SP and the Congress fell prey to it. An alliance was forged but consensus never reached.
One-upmanship with one group trying to prevail on the other to decide on a neutral venue for a joint press conference reeked of the deep wedge in between.
Not only that, over a dozen seats having candidates from both Congress and SP was possibly the worst spoilsport and the same echoed across the state.
"UP ko ye saath pasand hai" eventually not doing good even among party workers speaks volumes about the piggybacking being unwanted and based on inflated presumptions.
Rahul failed to cause an earthquake. He rather took the warm, cosy and comfortable lap of the SP and lost the battle. The same experiment as in Bihar.
So what has Rahul been doing all these years if he couldn't revive the lost fortunes of the Congress? In Bihar, despite putting their best foot forward they got reduced to nothing.
Rahul pushed full throttle in UP and tried to send the message that the Congress was on the path to revival and would contest on its own, but when reality dawned, a compromise with the SP was imminent.
Also, by elbowing out a seasoned politician like Mulayam, Akhilesh also made a blunder! The two SP factions are already at loggerheads.
Voters are not idiots - they understand history.
If the SP-Congress alliance fails, will Kishor's be the one cut-and-dried formula for all elections?
The results will have wider political ramifications. They are bound to reverberate in 2019.