With both Houses of Parliament adjourned for the day after obituary references and with early trends in the Assembly elections pointing to a disappointing day for the BJP, ministers and party leaders hurried out of Parliament gates and headed straight to their cars while Opposition leaders stopped to oblige the hordes of media teams.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s car was brought as close as possible to Gate Number 12 and the usually media-friendly leader of the House in the Rajya Sabha didn’t stop for questions or photographs.
In her rush to evade the cameras, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman walked to the wrong car before being directed to her own. Sitharaman had a brief conversation with CPI MP D Raja about cyclone Gaja and the devastation in its wake but evaded the TV microphones. “Let me get to office,” she was heard saying.
At 11 am, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut appeared on the main porch of Parliament and was mobbed by the media. “Clear message hai,” he began, when asked about the poll results. For whom? “Samajhdar ko ishara kaafi hai (you don’t need to spell it out),” he said. “Atma chintan karne ki zaroorat hai (there is need for introspection),” he added, before walking away.
Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan quickly walked to his car, declining to speak on camera but saying what a lot of other BJP ministers said, “Wait and watch, things will change.”
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Narendra Tomar and his deputy Arjunram Meghwal were among the few BJP leaders who gave in to pleas for bytes — they ended up giving almost identical ones, albeit for different states. “Hold your horses, we will form the government in Rajasthan,” Meghwal said. On Madhya Pradesh, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said, “It’s still early. I am confident the BJP will be able to form a government in MP.”
Rajya Sabha MP Saroj Pande, who represents Chhattisgarh in the Upper House, put up a brave face saying, “Wait for 4 pm and things will change in Chhattisgarh.”
Congress’s deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha, Anand Sharma, came out looking pensive. “Natije acchhe hain (results are good). It’s the people of India vs Narendra Modi. This is just a beginning, the real battle is ahead.”
As Sharma repeated his statements over the next 15 minutes to different media teams, senior Congress leader A K Antony said with the hint of a smile: “It’s the beginning of the end of the BJP.”
Earlier, the Upper House adjourned after obituary references to a large number of deceased MPs, including former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and former minister Ananth Kumar.