The BJP contested the Gujarat Assembly elections in alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), the Congress said a day after results of the Assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh were declared. The Congress with just 17 seats in the Gujarat Assembly, recorded its worst performance in the last four decades in the State.
“The result in Gujarat elections are deeply disappointing for our party. We weren’t expecting this performance. In Gujarat on one end was the BJP in alliance with the AAP and the AIMIM and on the other end was the Congress. All institutions under the State government and the Centre also assisted the ruling party. We filed several complaints about electoral malpractices, which were ignored,” Congress general secretary (communication) Jairam Ramesh said at a press conference in party headquarters in Delhi. The party’s general secretary (organisation) K.C. Venugopal also separately told media, that a seat-wise analysis will be conducted for Gujarat especially focusing on AAP’s impact on Congress’s electoral prospects.
Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah as G-2, he said, several times violated the model code of conduct. “I don’t want to make any excuses, our vote share has fallen from 40% to 27%. We concede and recognise this. But 27% vote share is not less and it can easily return to 40% within one electoral cycle. This is a time for introspection, bringing in fresh leadership and to unify,” he added.
At the same time, Mr. Ramesh said, the Congress’s performance in Himachal Pradesh should not be ignored, where the Congress won despite a high voltage campaign from BJP. Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed 10 public meetings. “I must underline, that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaign failed in Himachal Pradesh. And if you look at the results from the entire country, barring Gujarat, BJP has had adverse results,” Mr. Ramesh stated.
He credited, Congress’s promise of restoring the old pension scheme (OPS) as one of the primary factors for party’s victory in Himachal Pradesh. There have been many dissenting voices within the party, who are critical of Congress’s campaign for OPS which they call financially imprudent and detrimental in the long run. Mr. Ramesh asserted that “whatever is socially desirable overtakes what is financially prudence.” “We have to find the resources for it. Was Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) financially prudent? The greatest champions of MNREGA were the once raising questions on its financial prudence.” he said.
About the diverse views within the party on the issue, Mr. Ramesh added, “I have walked for 14 days in Maharashtra, every place the yatra went to the running theme among other things was OPS. Congress party has taken a considered view, whatever the individual views may be, it is the party view that dominates.”