NATIONAL

Winners and losers

Madan Lal Khurana

Madan Lal Khurana  

NEW DELHI DEC. 4. The Congress' sole victor in the Assembly elections, the Delhi Chief Minister, Sheila Dikshit, had much to smile about. It was "development, transparency, and good governance" which had won the day, she said. However, she was unwilling to claim the victory for herself or even for the Delhi State Congress. Delhi had voted for "the Congress under the leadership of the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi," she said.

Her political rival, BJP's Madan Lal Khurana, said that his party's defeat was because it had failed to convince the people of Delhi about the work done by the (Central) Government." Mr. Khurana, for whom this election was predicted as the last, insisted that he was going nowhere. He was not about to quit his post as the boss of the Delhi BJP, but conceded, "All decisions will be taken by the party high command."

The out-going Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, Digvijay Singh, was determinedly graceful in defeat. Soon after counting started he accepted his party's defeat in the State, declaring that he would do "ten years penance" in the political wilderness serving his party and its leader. He said that his Government had delivered on the social sector but that the people of Madhya Pradesh had "voted for change." He said that his Government's work in the economic sector would be visible in a year or two and, added without rancour, that the new Government could take credit for it.

Uma Bharti, who is set to become the first `sanyasin' Chief Minister of a State, thanked her party, God and the people of Madhya Pradesh, in that order. It wasn't simply "power" (shortages) that had won Madhya Pradesh for the BJP, but the "credibility of the Vajpayee Government at the Centre," she said.

In Rajasthan, Ashok Gehlot, was slower to accept the rejection slip handed to him, but when he did, it was because in the "beautiful system" that is democracy "the people are the ultimate." He said that he would now set about trying to discover why, despite his Government's good record, the people wanted him out.

His successor-designate as Chief Minister, Vasundhara Raje Scindia, insisted that he had been shipped out because of "misrule." Ms. Scindia, who was billed as an outsider with an outsider's chance in the Rajasthan poll said that she was "overwhelmed by the love and affection" bestowed on her by the people during the campaign. Despite her broadside at the exiting Mr. Gehlot, she acknowledged willy-nilly the dominance of the caste factor in her party's victory, thanking both the Jat Mahasabha and Pratap Foundation, which represents Rajput caste interests, for their role in the BJP's success.

Ajit Jogi, Chhattisgargh Chief Minister, remained out of camera range for most of the day, emerging to tell the gathered media that he accepted the people's verdict "with all humility."

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