With his party in the driver's seat in the states of Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, while fighting in a neck to neck contest in Madhya Pradesh with BJP to form the next government, Congress President Rahul Gandhi addressed the media in the National Capital on Tuesday evening.
At 8 pm, with the counting of votes yet to conclude, Congress appears to have won in Chhattisgarh, is poised to form a government in Rajasthan, and equal in terms of seat-share trends in Madhya Pradesh with the BJP. As for the states of Telangana and Mizoram, the party cut a sorry figure, as they were comprehensively routed out by TRS and MNF respectively.
Here are snippets of what Rahul Gandhi said in his news briefing, with occasional repeats when he reiterated his views while switching languages and when he answered questions. The same can be watched in the video above:
"The Election results have come. To the people and Congress workers I'd like to offer my thanks. I would like to congratulate the winners in the states where we've lost like Mizoram and Telangana."
"This is a win for the youth and farmers. It's a heavy responsibility of Congress now to listen to people and give a vision for the states."
"We've defeated BJP in Chhattisgarh, M.P & Rajasthan."
"We'd like to thank the CMs of those states for the work they did."
"I'd like to thank people who have supported Congress in the states where we've won and where we've lost."
"I'm very very proud of workers who have stood for us. I'd like to thank them for the work they did in difficult circumstances. I'd like to congratulate those who have won in the states we've lost."
"We have a lot to do in the three states. We will provide the states with a vision."
"There have been BJP CMs in these states. I'd like to thank them for the work they've done."
"The central question is how our country intends to give jobs to millions and millions of youth. There's a sense among the youth that the promise of the Prime Minister, of employment, has been broken. The same feeling is there among farmers. There's discontent and an inability to envision the future and to understand how they're going to survive and thrive in the field of agriculture and I think that has been a big impact. We're going to work in these states and try to ensure that we can give a vision, give a future."
"Certainly it's pretty clear that there's a feeling that what was committed by Mr Modi hasn't been delivered. That is something we felt through the campaign. People were coming up to us and told us."
(To an inaudible question about 2019) "I've been saying it for some time. I think with a resurgent Congress party in these states, and in other states where the BJP is ruling, and the combined opposition, it's going to become very difficult for the PM and the BJP to win the election, this is pretty clear. And this is a clear message to the PM and the BJP that the country isn't happy. It's unhappy with the BJP, with Demonetisation, GST and the lack of jobs."
"I think it's a good thing for the Congress. I'm quite happy with what we've achieved. I'd have preferred a better result in Telangana. But Okay.
(On alliance matters and issues for 2019) "Central issues - employment and farmers distress. And these aren't just about M.P but about the entire country. And for this we'll need a strategic solution. We'll have to think and give the country a solution. And there's also a feeling that what the PM promised, what he promised about the economy and jobs wasn't fulfilled. You'd have seen the meeting of the Opposition yesterday. It's strongly united, uniformly united and will fight together. This is for sure"
(Inaudible question citing SP and BSP) "SP, BSP and Congress have the same ideology. Their ideology is different than the BJP and that is a matter. The CM issue isn't an issue. It will be handled smoothly."
(On not allying with the SP and BSP for these elections) "We were actually quite open. We were very flexible. But it didn't work out. We're actually quite comfortable with each other."
(On not raising EVMs in states where Congress wins) "See... for sure the Congress has won. The EVM issue isn't just in India, it's a generic issue. EVMs have a universal problem. And if the people of the country are uncomfortable seeing EVMs, it'll have to be addressed. The central issue of the EVMs is there. The central issue is that in the whole country there's an electronic system and if you manipulate the chip you can manipulate the entire system. In manual voting you can't do it. This is a question that's been answered in the US and other countries where they've said 'we don't want EVMs'. So that question is still on the table."
(To another question citing Rafale) "When PM was elected, he was elected on three platforms -- on livelihoods, corruption and farmers. People thought he'd fight corruption. That feeling's vanished and the feeling now is that Narendra Modi is himself corrupt. And this question was a reason for the win in the three states. What wasn't a question in people's minds before is a question now. It is the reality that there was corruption in Rafale and the truth will come out."
"We've said that as soon as our government is formed, it'll waive farm loans."
(To another inaudible question) "People chose the Prime Minister to work for the nation. It is a clear message to him now to resolve the problem of unemployment, farmers, corruption and now the matter of entire economic structure including the RBI which is getting damaged has to be taken care of."
"Frankly Prime Minister is paralyzed. He is not able to respond. He is unable to take the pressure that is coming from the opposition. That is pretty clear. If you look at his speeches, on the main questions, he doesn't say anything. That is the issue. PM has been chosen, India is facing a job crisis, he has been chosen to resolve it, so he should get to work."
(On farm loan waivers) "We've said, as soon as our government forms, the process of loan waivers will commence immediately."
"We have a different approach. We will fight the ideology of BJP, we will beat them. We have defeated them today and will continue to do that in 2019. But we don't want to 'mukt' anyone from India. If people have this kind of approach and thinking, we don't agree with it, we will fight. We don't, however, want to rid the country of anyone."
"Each state is different, each state has its demands, so we'll go with what the demand of the states are. My central way of dealing with it is that I ask the respective state's Congress and based on what they tell me I move forward."
(What will be the narrative for the 2019 election?) "I think we'll work with the opposition. There are a couple of central issues. Issue no. 1 is how India is going to give employment to its youngsters. Issue no 2 is how India is going to ensure that farmers have a future in this country. How agriculture fits into the larger economic vision of this country. Issue no 3 is the corruption that has been blatantly carried out and I keep repeating again and again that demonetisation is a scam. Rafale everyone knows corruption took place. So these three would be the main ideas. There is an issue of mismanagement of the economy and causing unnecessary damage to the sections of the economy that were actually doing well, badly implemented GST and demonetisation which was disastrous. Now, RBI chief has also resigned. Ex-RBI chief has commented on what he thought about demonetisation. Others have commented. So those would be the issues. But broadly what the Congress party and the opposition are going to attempt is Mr Modi sold a vision to this country 5 years ago and this country had the patience to listen to that vision and to give him five years to carry it out. And by all accounts, he has failed in providing our country with a vision going forward for the 21st century, for 2018, 2019, for 2025. So I think what we would be trying to do is we will be trying to, is other than attacking the current dispensation, is setting the structure and architecture for a new vision going forward for our country. Congress has done it before, in 1991, before that in the 70s with the Green Revolution. So we are now starting a conversation internally and we are going to involve large parts of our country in developing a vision for India that we then implement. So that would be the broad theme."
“For me, 2014 was the best election, as counter-intuitive as it may sound. I learnt a lot, I learnt humility, as a politician you have to listen to what they feel, connect and try to work with that sentiment. Narendra Modi has taught me that lesson, now I know what not to do. He taught me humility. I feel sad for Modi that he had five years to transform this country but he refused to listen to the heartbeat of the country, refused to listen to the youth and farmers. Certain amount of arrogance came into him and I think that’s fatal for politicians. I told this to my mother that I learnt a lot from 2014 elections and him (PM Modi). It has been quite a journey, a little bit of beating also, but that’s not a bad thing.”
In Chhattisgarh, Congress was leading in 66 seats as per the latest trends, way ahead of their nearest competitor and the party in power since 15 years in the state, BJP. The other eight seats in 90-seat assembly was with the coalition of BSP and Ajit Jogi's party. CM Raman Singh has already conceded defeat.
Heading west, the Congress' performance in Rajasthan turned out to not be as emphatic as imagined, with the party hovering around the majority mark. Sachin Pilot has made overtures to 'anti-BJP' parties in the state, however, and the Congress is likely to form a government.
In Telangana, however, the Congress' much-hyped Maha Katumi alliance with Chandrababu Naidu's TDP faced a heavy defeat with KCR's TRS recording a stupendous win. In Mizoram, the Congress was whittled down to single-digits from being the ruling party, with the MNF poised to form a majority government.