Pawar, Raut call poll results a setback for Congress

Published on Mar 11, 2022 12:01 AM IST

Mumbai: Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar and Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut on Thursday said that the results of the Assembly election in five states are a setback for the Congress

The Congress office wears a deserted look on Thursday. Bhushan Koyande/HT Photo
The Congress office wears a deserted look on Thursday. Bhushan Koyande/HT Photo

Mumbai: Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar and Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut on Thursday said that the results of the Assembly election in five states are a setback for the Congress. Raut said the Congress needs to change its policy, while Pawar said the party’s situation is not worse than what it faced in 1977.

In light of the election results, the two leaders said, the opposition parties will meet during the budget session of parliament to chalk out a plan ahead of 2024.

Pawar said the change in Punjab is also not favourable to the BJP, which faced defeat because of the farmer’s protests.

“People opted for the status quo in the four BJP-ruled states - Uttar Pradesh, Manipur, Goa, and Uttarakhand. Punjab is one state where the Congress was in power. But a different picture appeared there. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) benefitted from the work it did in Delhi,” the NCP chief said.

According to Pawar, the Congress’ decision to remove Amarinder Singh as the CM and change the state unit chief did not sit well with the people.

“The Congress’ position in Punjab was better at one point, but some internal decisions it made were not accepted by the people. Amarinder was removed and a new leadership was brought in. Amarinder, an influential leader, formed a new party and gave an impression that he would join hands with those who run the country today (Bharatiya Janata Party). The people did not want that too,” Pawar said.

A large number of those who participated in the farmers’ protests were from Punjab, he said. “The anger among the farmers was reflected in the election results. So, the Congress and the BJP were defeated, and the reins were handed over to the AAP.”

Raut, Sena’s chief spokesperson, said the Congress was expected to win Punjab, Goa, and Uttarakhand, but the election management of the party was not good.

“At the same time, this is a victory of the BJP’s election management... the Congress must change its policy. We wanted to join hands in Goa and Uttar Pradesh but it did not work out. People wanted an alternative and they got it in Punjab,” Raut said.

The NCP chief said the Congress had in 1977 lost all states but two and many people had then said that the party would not revive. “But we cannot overlook that in 1980, the Congress came back to power in the country.”

Pawar, meanwhile, said the process to give the people a powerful alternative at the national level must commence soon. He hinted that a common minimum programme must be chalked out between the non-BJP parties.

He also said there are a sizable number of non-BJP parties in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, and Rajasthan. “A process to give a powerful alternative through a common minimum programme could start now. I am not saying that it would happen in a day or two, but the parliament session will start on March 14. We will all sit together and discuss the further course of action.”

“We must look at where we fell short, what can be done to come together, and what issues must be taken up. The process will start in the next few days. [After the results] Non-BJP parties are expected to sit together and work out a plan,” the NCP chief added.

Commenting on the Samajwadi Party’s performance in Uttar Pradesh, Raut said they expected more seats for the Akhilesh Yadav-led party. “Had the Congress and the SP joined hands, they would have performed better.”

Pawar lauded Yadav’s performance and said, “I do not think Akhilesh is at fault. The number of seats he got is not to be disregarded. He fought single-handedly. He should not worry about the results, but the number that he got will improve his position not only in UP but also across the country.”

Congress leader and former Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan said his party fought with a mindset of defeat.

“The results are demotivating in Goa, but not unexpected. In Punjab, the change of leadership and caste calculations were looked at to get seats, which was never the Congress policy. The AAP filled the vacuum the Congress left behind. In Uttar Pradesh, Priyanka Gandhi gave a big fight but she was alone. Ministers and MLAs should have been sent from other states like the BJP does in elections,” he said at Vidhan Bhavan.


    Swapnil Rawal is Principal Correspondent with the Hindustan Times. He covers urban development and infrastructure. He had long stints with leading national dailies and has experience of over a decade in journalism.

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