With Thursday’s results, the Congress renaissance in Maharashtra has gained further momentum.
After the 1999 split, caused by the dispute over Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origins, the party saw its base diminishing.
But it has been primarily Gandhi that has led the party’s resurgence at the national and state level.
“The Congress will get stronger and stronger hereafter,” said Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, who is expected to continue in the post. “We have provided a stable government and served the people efficiently over the last ten years.”
The recent Lok Sabha polls boosted the Congress’ confidence when it logged an unexpected tally of 17 of 48 seats.
Now, the party has had its strongest showing in Maharashtra in 15 years.
In both elections, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena assisted the Congress by eating into the Shiv Sena vote.
“The MNS may have helped the Congress, but it is also true that the Congress made an effort to consolidate its position,” said political commentator Surendra Jondhale.
Senior Congress leaders refused to comment on the MNS effect.
“We worked harder and the positive results are here,” said state party chief Manikrao Thakre, adding that the Lok Sabha polls had charted a roadmap for the party.
Now, the encouraging results in both elections are leading some Congress leaders to demand the Congress fight future elections on its own.
“I have been saying consistently that the Congress should go it alone,” said Union Heavy Industries Minister and former CM Vilasrao Deshmukh.