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Rahul Gandhi Halts Modi-Shah Juggernaut as Congress Wrests Heartland, Throws Open Challenge to BJP for 2019; KCR Retains Crown in Telangana

Even as counting of votes was still on in MP early on Wednesday morning, the prime minister tweeted to congratulate the Congress on its victories and thanked the people of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan for giving the BJP an opportunity to serve the states.

News18.com

Updated:December 12, 2018, 4:09 AM IST
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Rahul Gandhi Halts Modi-Shah Juggernaut as Congress Wrests Heartland, Throws Open Challenge to BJP for 2019; KCR Retains Crown in Telangana
Congress workers celebrate their party's victory in the assembly polls on Tuesday. (PTI)

New Delhi: A resurgent Congress on Tuesday made significant gains in the assembly elections, dealing a body blow to the BJP in Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan and emerging as the single largest party in Madhya Pradesh. The reverses for the BJP in the heartland threw wide open the 2019 Lok Sabha elections which until a few months ago appeared to be in the grip of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party.

The Assembly polls held for five states also saw the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) recording a landslide win for a second consecutive term and the Mizo National Front (MNF) scripting a spectacular victory dislodging the Congress in its last bastion in the Northeast to return to power after 10 years.

Even as counting of votes was still on in MP early on Wednesday morning, the prime minister tweeted to congratulate the Congress on its victories and thanked the people of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan for giving the BJP an opportunity to serve the states, which account for 65 seats in the Lok Sabha and voted overwhelmingly for the BJP in the 2014 polls.

Buoyed by the performance of the Congress, party chief Rahul Gandhi credited the victory to "farmers, party workers, shopkeepers and small businessmen", while warning Modi that a "resurgent Congress" will make it very difficult for him to win the 2019 elections.

Making his intent clear, Gandhi said the Congress differed with the BJP ideologically but it did not want to make a ‘BJP-mukt Bharat’, borrowing from the saffron party’s oft-repeated slogan to dislodge the Congress, and will work hard to fight it ideologically. "PM Modi was handed a huge opportunity. It is a sad thing that he refused to listen to the heartbeat of the country. The arrogance came in," said Gandhi.

Both Raman Singh and Vasundhara Raje, chief ministers of BJP-led governments in Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, tendered their resignations to the respective governors.

“I take responsibility for this defeat because the poll was contested under my leadership. We will act as a strong opposition and work for the development of the state,” said Dr Singh after resigning.

Outgoing Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje said she is proud of the development work done by her government and respects the mandate of the people. "I am proud of the development works done by the BJP government in five years. I believe that the upcoming government will continue the works and projects," Raje said in a statement.

In Chhattisgarh, the Congress won a clear and large majority, winning 66 seats in the 90-member House, while in Rajasthan, the Congress with its allies, touched the half-way mark.

Madhya Pradesh emerged as the cliffhanger and witnessed major political drama with the Congress writing a letter to the governor to stake claim to form the government, while accusing the BJP of pressuring the Election Commission to delay the announcement of results.

In Telangana, K Chandrashekar Rao's TRS scored a fabulous win by bagging 87 seats in the 119-member Legislative Assembly, demonstrating the domination or influence of regional parties in the southern states. By winning the state polls, KCR stood vindicated after his decision to call snap elections to capitalise on interim popularity.

KCR said the results would enable the TRS to play a crucial role in national politics. He said a national party will emerge that will form a coalition with a consortium of regional parties to take on the BJP and the Congress. "...Congress-mukt Bharat..BJP-mukt Bharat...that is needed...we will unveil the whole thing in Delhi in 10 days," Rao told a press conference.

Even as the Congress lost its last bastion in the northeast, Mizoram, to Mizo National Front, the BJP won its first ever seat in the state. The MNF, which is an NDA constituent, fought this election on its own. Five-time Chief Minister of Mizoram, Lal Thanhawla, who contested from Champhai South and Serchhip, lost both the seats he contested from.

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