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HomeIndia NewsIndia elections: Congress improves seat tally in parliament

India elections: Congress improves seat tally in parliament

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The main opposition Congress party in India received a boost from vote results released on Tuesday, which revealed that despite beginning as the underdog, the historic party was almost doubling its seats.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Modi, humiliated the once-powerful political force that was proud of its role in eliminating British colonial rule in the previous two elections, leaving it in ruins.

The Congress was expected to lose badly again, according to exit polls, but the party surprised observers by significantly raising its performance. As the results began to come in, enthusiastic party members were waving enormous flags and playing drums at the party headquarters in the capital, New Delhi.

“Rahul has worked hard day and night. He deserves all the accolades. He has single-handedly lifted the party up,” said Avneesh Jain, a party worker of Congress.

“At this rate we will win the next election for sure,” he added.
Gandhi, 53, has been hamstrung by several criminal cases lodged against him by members of BJP, including a defamation conviction that saw him briefly disqualified from parliament last year.
Congress’s bank accounts were also frozen by the tax department this year. Against the odds, Gandhi continued to attack Modi and the BJP, calling out their “divisive” agenda that he said sought to marginalise the country’s 200-million plus Muslim minority.
“Our bank accounts were seized. We didn’t have the money to contest the election. But then the public supported us,” said senior Congress politician Alka Lamba.
The results have reposed faith in the Congress leadership, especially Gandhi, who was pitted against the rival’s well-oiled election machinery. The Congress promise of an annual cash transfer of Rs 100,000 ($1,200) to every poor Indian family and jobs to the youth also seemed to have struck a chord with voters.
“Rahul Gandhi has delivered through his promises to the youth and the poor,” said Ziya Us Salam, a political analyst and author.
“He has also shed his highly undeserved tag of ‘pappu’ (witless),” he added.
“He has the credibility that Modi doesn’t have. Modi only indulged in divisive speeches and bigotry. He had nothing constructive to offer to the masses.”
The son, grandson and great-grandson of former prime ministers, Gandhi was set to win the Congress bastion of Rae Bareli and also another seat in the southern state of Kerala.
Rajeev Shukla, a Congress lawmaker, credited a cross-country trek undertaken by Gandhi at the start of last year for the party’s revival.
“The long march worked wonders. He connected with the people on the ground, that made a lot of difference.”
The Congress poll performance showed it remained crucial for India’s political opposition at the national level, said V.S. Chandrasekar, the former executive editor of the Press Trust of India news agency.
“The BJP government has ridden roughshod because of the weak opposition in the parliament,” he said.

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