DESPITE SHRINKING further in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress on Thursday drew comfort from the fact the BJP has suffered a setback in the bypolls. On a day the party’s 2014 vote share in Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha constituencies went down by around 60 per cent, AICC general secretary in charge of UP, Ghulam Nabi Azad, said the results were a signal to “progressive forces” to unite to defeat the BJP.
“We have been saying from the beginning that if all the parties unite, we will be able to form the Government… “It is a lesson for all progressive parties… who do not make false promises, who do not divide the people in the name of region and religion… to come together,” he said.
While Azad said the results show the mood in the country, Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted: “It is clear from the results that there is a lot of anger among voters towards the BJP and they would vote for the non-BJP candidate who is the maximum chance of winning.” As for UP, he said the Congress is keen on rebuilding in Uttar Pradesh, but that will not happen overnight.
Congress’ vote share came down to less than 20,000 in Gorakhpur and Phulpur, where it had bagged 45,719 and 56,127 votes respectively in 2014. Azad said when Congress had fielded its candidates, the situation was different. “At that time, Mayawati was not contesting… after filing of nominations and mid-way through campaigning, she extended support to SP… then it was a little difficult for us to withdraw because our workers were already in the field.”
“However, after Mayawati supported SP, we went slow. Even I did not campaign. So in a way, we may not have withdrawn candidates but we went into a slow mode… not to divide the anti-BJP vote. The reason why Congress did not fare well is because… after Mayawati supported SP, we thought let the votes go in one direction… because our target was to see the BJP is defeated,” he said.
Azad said BJP has tasted defeat in all the recent bypolls. “This is the result of BJP’s arrogance, the false promises that it had made… So, this is the victory of democracy. The government had become so arrogant and dictatorial… people have given them a befitting reply.”
The CPI, too, echoed similar sentiments. “The results will have positive impact on the thinking of all secular-democratic parties. They will have to think of evolving suitable electoral tactics in states and at national levels, keeping in view the primary objective of defeating BJP,” senior CPI leader D Raja said.
“The results are a defeat for the BJP. It shows the growing discontent, disillusionment among the people. Earlier, the BJP was defeated in bypolls and local body elections in Rajasthan, where it is in power… In Gujarat also they cannot claim spectacular victory. Now, they were defeated in Gorakhpur and Phulpur, the constituencies of the UP CM and his deputy. In Bihar also, it is slap on BJP’s unethical and manipulative politics… People have started feeling the fascist oppression and attack on their democratic rights… so, people are reacting,” he added.