As news of Congress’ strong performance in the Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh assembly elections started trickling in, by Tuesday afternoon, the party rank and file in Pune erupted in celebrations. Even as Congress activists distributed pedhas and burst crackers, barely any BJP leaders or workers were visible in Pune city, with most of them switching off their cellphones or refusing to express their opinions on the party’s disappointing show.
Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said those who had spoken about a “Congress-mukt Bharat” should now worry about their own existence. “We are confident that after the 2019 elections, it will a BJP-mukt Bharat,” he said.
“The victories clearly reveal that the Congress is on the comeback trail at the Centre. The 2019 Lok Sabha elections belong to the Congress. The public mood across the country has changed in favour of the party,” said state Congress president Ashok Chavan. He added, “All attempts by BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to show Rahul Gandhi in a poor light have come a cropper. We are confident that he will show his prowess in the 2019 elections as well”.
He said the “politics of hatred has been snubbed by voters in the Hindi heartland”, adding, “the defeat of BJP is a blow to the Prime Minister, whose authoritarian style of functioning has been rejected by the people”.
“Modi’s style of functioning by controlling various institutions and trying to belittle leaders of other parties has clearly been disapproved by the people, who have given him a befitting reply in the these states, “ said Chavan.
Congress city spokesperson Ramesh Iyer said, “The party has bounced back. The Congress victories show that the Modi wave exists no more. It is a Rahul Gandhi wave across the country.” He said the Congress will now work with renewed vigour in Pune.
At the Congress Bhavan in Pune, as party members celebrated, a large crowd turned up to join in the celebrations. In contrast, the BJP office on Shirole Road, buzzing with activity till Monday, wore a forlorn look on Tuesday, with leaders and activists preferring to stay away.
BJP city unit president Yogesh Gogawale said the assembly elections were part of the democratic process in the country. “Once all the results are out, we will analyse them and try to find out where we went wrong. On the basis of our party’s organisational strength, we are confident of overcoming the lacunae,” he said.
Stating that the BJP respects the people’s mandate, Gogawale questioned why the Congress was silent now about electronic voting machines (EVMs). “Earlier, when they lost the elections, they blamed the EVMs. They alleged that EVMs were manipulated. Now, when the Congress has won, that too in BJP-ruled states, why is it silent on EVMs and not making any allegations… that EVMs were manipulated in its favour…,” he asked.