Congress is witnessing a series of poll debacles one after the another since 2014 and the crushing defeat in assembly elections in all five poll-bound states including Punjab on Thursday proved a disaster for the grand old party. Thanks to PM Narendra Modi’s charismatic image and the BJP’s election strategy by Amit Shah and JP Nadda, Congress decimated to a few states.
The most uncomfortable result for the party came from Punjab where it ruled for the last five years. The party also failed to get a room in Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur where it used to enjoy power once. And in Uttar Pradesh, the party managed to get just two seats. With Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s power-packed campaign in Uttar Pradesh, the party was hoping for a good share of votes. But all went in vain on the eventful Thursday.
Disappointed with the Assembly election results in Manipur, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Goa, the Congress’ group of 23 leaders (G-23) will convene a meeting in the next 48 hours, a senior leader said on Thursday. G23 leaders include Ghulam Nabi Azad, former Union ministers Kapil Sibal and Anand Sharma, Rajya Sabha MP Vivek Tankha, Lok Sabha MP Manish Tewari, and former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda had sought organisational overhaul and party-level reforms.
Amid the thinning base of the grand-old party, leaders demanded a democratic set-up within the national party as it struggled to have a leader, post-Sonia Gandhi’s resignation. According to Election Commission, BJP won 200 seats and is leading in 55 seats in Uttar Pradesh. Samajwadi Party bagged 73 seats while is leading 37 seats. Congress won only two seats. Rashtriya Lok Dal, the alliance partner of SP won 8 seats. Bahujan Samaj Party could not manage to open its account so far.
Party leader Rahul Gandhi accepted the people’s verdict and asserted that the party will take lessons from it. Taking to Twitter, Rahul Gandhi said, “Humbly accept the people’s verdict. Best wishes to those who have won the mandate. My gratitude to all Congress workers and volunteers for their hard work and dedication. We will learn from this and keep working for the interests of the people of India.”
With Congress faring badly in five states – Manipur, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Goa and Punjab, the party has decided to convene a Congress Working Committee meeting soon to introspect the results. “The results of five states have come against the expectations of the Congress party but we accept that we failed to get the blessings of the people. Sonia Gandhi has decided to convene Congress Working Committee meeting soon to introspect the results,” Congress General Secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala said.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) won 92 seats in Punjab. Ruling Congress restricted to 18 seats. Shiromani Akali Dal bagged three seats, BJP got two seats and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) got one seat. In Punjab, the months ahead of the assembly polls remained a jerky ride for Congress with replacing Captain Amarinder Singh with Charanjit Singh Channi as the chief minister. Further, the unsaid infighting between Sidhu and Channi aggravated the situation further.
Channi has lost from both the seats that he contested – Chamkaur Sahib and Bhadaur in the state assembly elections. “I humbly accept the verdict of the people of Punjab and Congratulate Aam Aadmi Partyand their elected CM Bhagwant Mann ji for the victory. I hope they will deliver on the expectations of people,” Channi said in a tweet.
Channi got over 23,000 votes in the Bhadaur constituency. He lost against Aam Aadmi Party’s Labh Singh Ugoke who got over 57,000 votes. While in Chamkaur Sahib, Channi got 50,000 votes, while Aam Aadmi Party’s candidate who has a similar name – Charanjit Singh – got over 54,000 votes. Congress party put the onus on former Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh for the defeat in Punjab saying there was an air of anti-incumbency due to his 4.5 years rule.
“In Punjab, Congres presented a new leadership through Charanjit Singh Channi who is the son of the soil, but the entire anti-incumbency of 4.5 years under Captain Amarinder Singh could not be overcome and hence people voted for AAP for change,” said Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala. In Uttarakhand, BJP won 38 seats and is leading in nine seats. Congress bagged 16 seats and have leads in three seats. BSP won in one seat and is leading in one seat.
All was also not well in Uttarakhand for the Congress, where party veteran Harish Rawat had issues with the induction of Harak Singh Rawat. Harish Rawat is trailing behind BJP’s Mohan Singh Bisht with a margin of 17,527 votes in Lalkuwa. Harish Rawat, who was the party’s campaign face in Uttarakhand assembly polls, on Thursday took responsibility for the party’s defeat. Rawat is trailing from Lalkuwa behind BJP’s Mohan Singh Bisht.
“Our efforts were little less to win over the people of Uttarakhand. We were sure that people will vote for a change, there must’ve been a shortage in our efforts, I accept it and take responsibility for the defeat,” Rawat said. He also said that the party’s campaign strategy was “insufficient”.
“Our campaign strategy was insufficient and I accept it as chairman of the campaign committee. People worked very well and I would like to thank them. I could not win people’s trust but I would like to congratulate my daughter and all the winning candidates who won,” Rawat said. “For me, the results are very surprising. I cannot understand that after such massive inflation if this was the public’s mandate, what is the definition of public welfare and social justice? I cannot understand people saying ‘BJP zindabaad’ after this,” he added.
Goa Congress also expressed disappointment over the poll results. In Goa, where halfway mark is 21, BJP won 20 seats and Congress bagged 11 seats. AAP and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak won two seats each. Revolutionary Goans Party and Goa Forward Party won one seat each.
“Disappointed by the results, expected a better situation. We will continue to be a responsible Opposition and take up issues aggressively. The Opposition has an important role, in and outside State Assembly,” said Congress in-charge Dinesh Gundu Rao said. Further, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram opined division of votes of anti-BJP votes resulted in the party’s poor performance.
“Split in votes among various parties ended up in our numbers being less than what we had hoped for. BJP won by a little over 33 per cent of votes, the remaining votes got divided. We accept the verdict of the people of Goa. Our candidates fought bravely, despite several obstacles. People have voted BJP to power and we accept that. In several constituencies, we lost with very small margins,” Chidambaram said. In Manipur Congress won four seats while is leading one seat. BJP got 27 seats and have leads in five seats.
Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) is poised to return to power with a comfortable majority for an unprecedented second term in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is on course to a historic victory in Punjab, according to election results and trends on Thursday. In the other two states of Manipur and Goa, which also went to polls in February-March, the BJP has emerged as the single largest party and is on course to form the government.
Aam Aadmi Party is on course to a historic victory in Punjab and set to form the government.