Cong draws blank, but glad ‘divisive’ BJP out

Took a conscious step back to ensure contest wasn’t three-cornered

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 11

Notwithstanding its third consecutive decimation in Delhi, a state it ruled for 15 years until 2013, the grand old Congress looked happy in BJP’s loss today, having played a part in the Aam Aadmi Party’s sweep.

Only 3 save deposits 

  • Congress had fielded 66 candidates. Of them, only three managed to save their deposits – Arvinder Singh Lovely (Gandhi Nagar), Devender Yadav (Badli) and Abhishek Dutt (Kasturba Nagar).

The party’s top brass was unflustered about drawing another blank, 63 candidates losing deposit and its vote share halving from 9.6 per cent in 2015 to 4.27 per cent today. It may have been Congress’ worst-ever show in Delhi’s entire poll history, but the party seemed content that the BJP lost.

Former minister P Chidambaram was the first to welcome AAP’s win and minced no words in suggesting Delhi results as a template for other states to follow. He called Delhi vote an all-India vote, suggesting that Delhi is a mini-India.

“AAP won, bluff and bluster lost. The people of Delhi, who are from all parts of India, have defeated the polarising, divisive and dangerous agenda of the BJP. I salute the people of Delhi who have set an example to other states that will hold their elections in 2021 and 2022,” said Chidambaram.

Revising its strategy in Delhi Assembly polls, the Congress took a conscious step back this time to prevent the anti-BJP votes from splitting. AAP swept the poll, an outcome the Congress desired.

Chidambaram today called Delhi vote the all-India vote predicting similar results in the upcoming Bihar and West Bengal elections if the Opposition parties played strategically.

Although the party officially conceded defeat to AAP today giving a semblance that it was in the fight, many leaders privately conceded they were not in the game and therefore settled for the next best outcome – BJP’s defeat.

“Results are good…we were never in the game,” said a party senior. Another Congress MP admitted it was the party strategy to withdraw from the field in favour of AAP and ensure it did not become three-cornered.

“My best wishes and congratulations to Mr Kejriwal and AAP on winning the Delhi assembly elections,” Rahul Gandhi tweeted.

AICC media head Randeep Surjewala and Delhi Congress chief Subhash Chopra (whose daughter Shivani lost her deposit in Kalkaji) however said the party humbly accepted the verdict of Delhi and would strive to regain people’s confidence.

For the Opposition, the Delhi outcome may herald the beginning of a new anti-BJP front with Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee today declaring that the “BJP will soon become state-less.”

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