Leaving behind the ghosts of 2014, the Congress party defeated the BJP and registered a massive victory in the crucial heartland states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh. Led by its president Rahul Gandhi, the resurgent Congress dismantled BJP in Chhattisgarh, showed the door in Rajasthan and snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in Madhya Pradesh. Pleased as punch after the victory, Gandhi said that the results in the Assembly elections, dubbed as the semi-final before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, reflected that people have lost faith in Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Congress has emerged as the single-largest party in Rajasthan, winning 99 seats, while the BJP got 73. In Madhya Pradesh, the Congress was locked in a tantalising see-saw battle with the BJP but emerged the largest party with 114 seats - just two short of the majority mark. In Chhattisgarh polls, the Congress registered a landslide victory bringing an end to the 15-year rule of the Raman Singh-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government. It won 68 seats in the 90-member Assembly, while the BJP got only 15 seats.
Modi’s lost sheen
In 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi came in power with a historic mandate. India Against Corruption Movement after several “scams” in the Manmohan Singh-led UPA-II government did contribute to the BJP’s victory or to sound more relevant Modi’s victory, but it was the combative and upbeat oratory made the difference. But as some say - eloquence can make you win elections, but it can’t replace the governance.
It was started in Gujarat, where Rahul Gandhi started dominating over Modi. The Congress president began to question Modi’s ability to govern and deliver. The Congress president started calling Modi’s (over) confidence his arrogance and it took no time the combative oratory turned defensive.
It was then when Modi lost the track and limited his attacks on the Gandhi scion and his family. He refused to believe the fact that jobless youth and distressed farmers can’t be distracted by “Ali and Bajrang Bali” and they will react if ignored.
Arrogance versus humility
In 2013, when the BJP began to wrest power from the Congress in states and in Centre next year, their leaders said they will make India Congress-free. With every election victory, Rahul Gandhi was ridiculed, called names by BJP leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah. He was considered a lost cause and BJP had even succeeded in creating a perception among masses that the Gandhi scion was an immature and undeserving politician. Modi, in a veiled reference to Sonia Gandhi, called her a “widow”.
The Congress chief, on the other hand, chose his attacks wisely. He questioned Prime Minister Modi’s integrity and honesty over the alleged scam in Rafale deal. He chose not to mince his words and called Modi a “thief”. He didn’t react unnecessarily to BJP’s bullies and led from the front in the Assembly elections.
"When PM Modi was elected, he was elected on platforms like employment, corruption. Now, voters are disillusioned. They believe the PM is involved in corruption. And these losses are the result of that," the Congress chief said in the post-victory presser.
He said that he learned from the 2014 elections where BJP swept to victory with the historic mandate and Prime Minister Modi taught him what not to do in politics.
“I learned that the most important thing is humility. Mr Narendra Modi taught me that lesson. I see (from his actions) what not to do. He was given a massive opportunity to lead the country. He refused to listen to the heartbeat of this country,” he said.