Elections

Rahul Gandhi thanks workers who ‘fought anger with dignity’

Congress president Rahul Gandhi arrive at Parliament during winter session after election results in Himachal and Gujarat assembly, in New Delhi on Monday.   | Photo Credit: Sandeep Saxena

Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who had led the Congress campaign in Gujarat, did not speak to the media after the results were announced, but took to Twitter to thank the people of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh and his party workers.

“My Congress brothers and sisters, you have made me very proud. You are different than those you fought because you fought anger with dignity. You have demonstrated to everyone that the Congress’s greatest strength is its decency and courage,” Mr. Gandhi said.

Congress leaders were upbeat as the party did not suffer a rout in Himachal Pradesh and put up its best performance in Gujarat in 22 years. “Irrespective of who forms the government in Gujarat, I think it is our moral victory and I don’t consider it to be BJP’s win,” said Ashok Gehlot, who handled Congress strategy in Gujarat.

Morale booster

“There is an electoral victory and there is a political victory. Need I say who is the political victor in Gujarat? Congress has returned a morale-boosting performance in Gujarat under Mr. Rahul Gandhi. The battle is now joined for five States in 2018,” senior leader P. Chidambaram said.

“If you look at BJP’s 2014 Lok Sabha results, they had won in 165 Assembly segments. And we have nearly doubled our seats from August 2017 when we had 43 MLAs,” said Randeep Surjewala, chief spokesperson of the party. The Congress leader also lauded the role of emerging leaders in the State like Hardik Patel, Jignesh Mevani and Alpesh Thakore, saying they championed the pain of people and “we consider it our duty to espouse their cause”.

While Hardik Patel breached the BJP’s Patidar vote bank, Mr. Thakor helped with OBC votes and Mr. Mevani helped the Congress connect with Dalits. “This also denied the BJP a chance to build a larger Hindu narrative and consolidate their votes,” said a senior Congress leader.

Mr. Gandhi’s frequent temple trips in the State also worked to shed the party’s image of minority appeasement, which senior leader A.K. Antony is believed to have flagged in a confidential report soon after the 2014 Lok Sabha debacle.

For the record, though, the party denies any conscious image makeover.

No grassroots leaders

But, perhaps, the biggest worry for the party is the lack of strong regional leaders and a robust organisation on the ground.

All senior leaders — Shaktisinh Gohil, Arjunbhai Modhvadia, Siddharth Patel and Tushar Choudhury — lost the elections.

While the Congress managed to retain its hold over rural voters, its campaign against the GST and demonetisation failed to lure traders in cities such as Surat.

“It’s true that we were hoping better results in Ahmedabad and Surat,” Mr. Gehlot said.

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Printable version | May 16, 2021 5:06:14 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/congress-accepts-peoples-verdict-fought-anger-with-dignity-says-rahul/article21832758.ece

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