Senior Congress leaders have dismissed the exit polls conducted by various news channels that indicate that the BJP is likely to sweep the assembly elections in all four states. They remain confident of winning in at least four states. Renu Mittal reports
The Congress has trashed the exit polls on major television channels which show the Bharatiya Janata Party winning by 4-0 in the states of Rajasthan, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, claiming that they do not reflect the reality, but are only an extension of the opinion polls which were telecast by these channels.
The Congress is confident of making a comeback in Chhattisgarh with senior party leaders already jockeying for the chief minister’s post and the state leaders convinced that BJP’s Chief Minister Raman Singh has run his final innings.
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi had a meeting at his residence on Thursday afternoon with 10 senior Chhattisgarh leaders to get feedback on the state polls and where the Congress stands.
Ajit Jogi, who is camping in New Delhi, has already declared that he is in the race for the chief ministership, though reports are that Rahul is against Jogi becoming the chief minister in view of the cases against him.
Jogi, known to have a good equation with the Delhi press because of his long innings in the All India Congress Committee and the Centre before he shifted to the newly-created state of Chhattisgarh as its first chief minister.
On Thursday, he called few mediapersons, and over lunch, shared his confidence of winning the state back from the BJP. A senior leader in the Congress admitted that if the Congress wins in Chhattisgarh, the appointment of a CM would be a “difficult decision”. He was obviously referring to the ‘Jogi’ factor.
In Madhya Pradesh, 10 years of BJP rule has taken its toll with the Congress leaders, who are know they are locked in a tight battle with the BJP, but expect that the contest would be a close one.
Harish Rawat who was appointed election coordinator for Madhya Pradesh, says that the Congress has got huge support from the rural areas, and the party fought united this time. The anti-incumbency against the BJP ministers and members of Legislative Assembly, who have many charges of corruption against them could be another factor boosting this confidence.
The Congress Legislative Party leader in Madhya Pradesh has rubbished the exit polls saying it is not the polls talking, but the money behind them. Many politicians have privately called such an exercise "dubious".
Reportedly, senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh has bet 110 to 120 seats for the Congress in Madhya Pradesh, and 90-100 seats for the BJP. One hundred and fifteen is the majority mark in Madhya Pradesh.
In Rajasthan, the Congress is publicly putting a brave face on, though internally, senior leaders admit that their weakest state is Rajasthan with the anti-incumbency working against current Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.
Some quarters are calling the election a close contest, but for the most part, the assessment is that the BJP and Vasundhara Raje Scindia will make a come back in the state.
The party however does not agree with the exit poll which gives 130 to the BJP though, it is being privately conceded that Raje may cross the 100 mark.
The Congress is expected to perform badly in Alwar, Churu, Jhunjhunu, Sikar and nearby areas. Union Minister and senior Jat leader Sis Ram Ola, is reported to have promised victory for all the seven assembly candidates under his parliamentary constituency.
He is said to have insisted that Congress state president Chandrabhan should also be given the ticket, and that he will ensure his victory.
But Ola could not campaign for the candidates as he was hospitalised, and as a result, the party is faring poorly in his area, including Chandrabhan who is not expected to win.
In Delhi, the Congress is in the grip of a three-term anti-incumbency, but still, senior Congress leaders say they are confident of giving the BJP a run for its money since even now they would not be able to get a majority.
They claim that even if Congress loses the BJP will not win. The Sheila Dixit camp has assessed the BJP to get around 20 seats with the Congress getting over 25 seats, and 12 seats are locked in a tight contest.
Congress leaders say that the Aam Admi Party and the buzz it has generated and the the board support it has got, has divided the vote between the BJP and the AAP, making it easier for the Congress to look for a fourth term in office.
According to a senior Congress leader, there is anti-incumbency in all four states against the ruling government of the day, and while this will benefit the party in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, it will be advantage BJP in Rajasthan.
In Delhi, the Congress may buckle under the anti-incumbency because of the division in vote and the efforts of the AAP. While listening to senior leaders a cynical Congressman in the party quipped, “There is no tax on having high hopes!”