suspense in Chhattisgarh
New Delhi, Dec 8 (IANS) In elections seen as a “semi final” before the 2014 Lok Sabha battle, the BJP retained Madhya Pradesh and ousted the Congress in Rajasthan. The Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) stunning show in Delhi pushed the Congress to a humiliating third spot, with the BJP looking set to take power despite lacking a clear majority.
The Congress and the BJP were in a cliffhanger neck and neck race in Chhattisgarh.
A humbled Congress, which had pitted its vice president Rahul Gandhi against the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi in the hectic election campaign, said it would “introspect” why it lost Rajasthan, was crushed in Delhi and why it couldn’t dislodge the BJP in Madhya Pradesh.
“Our congratulations to those who have won in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan,” said a despondent Congress leader Jayanthi Natarajan. “In Delhi, we accept the verdict and will examine the results. We will find out what has gone wrong.”
“Our work is cut out for us and we have to face realities,” said Congress minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, who was projected as a possible chief minister candidate for Madhya Pradesh which the party lost badly.
The BJP said the verdict dominantly reflected “mass anger” against the Congress, which has ruled India since 2004 at the head of a multi-party United Progressive Alliance alliance.
“This is an anti-Congress vote. There is an impact of Modi also,” said spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman, referring to the party’s prime ministerial candidate who campaigned in all four states with gusto.
BJP activists erupted into celebrations all across Madhya Pradesh, which the party has ruled since 2003, and Rajasthan, where the Congress suffered a disastrous defeat.
But the Congress put up a spirited show in Chhattisgarh where it appeared at one stage to be edging past the Raman Singh-led BJP after being in the opposition for a decade.
Chhattisgarh state general secretary Ramesh Varlyhani told IANS that the Congress “expected to form a government” in the state. But officials said the BJP had again taken a narrow lead over the Congress in the afternoon.
The Congress was decimated in Rajasthan, and could be left with only 31 seats in the 200-member house. Officials counting votes in the state said the BJP could win as many as 142 seats.
In Madhya Pradesh, the BJP was on the road to winning from 149 of the 230 constituencies.
The most stunning verdict came from Delhi where Sheila Dikshit, chief minister for 15 long years, resigned after leading the party to a rout — and she herself lost humiliatingly to AAP founder leader Arvind Kejriwal in New Delhi constituency, which she considered her pocket borough.
The BJP was tantalizingly close to power with the prospect of winning 32 of the 70 seats. The AAP, born out of the anti-corruption movement of Anna Hazare, was tipped to bag 27 seats, just one year after it was formed, a performance that even its political foes admitted was spectacular.
“We always thought of AAP as competition and we were expecting it to get double digit seats but this is surprising,” Delhi BJP president Vijay Goel said.
The Congress claimed the verdict was no reflection on its national leadership.
“We must remember that these five states account for only 73 Lok Sabha seats (out of a total of 543),” said party leader Randeep Singh Surjewala, also including Mizoram where the vote count will take place Monday.
Abhishek Singhvi of the Congress added that Modi’s vote-catching ability had not worked, going by the BJP’s struggle to retain Chhattisgarh and its failure to notch a clear win in Delhi.