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Sonia, CWC meet, and two party hqs

Josy Joseph | May 13, 2004 18:13 IST
Last Updated: May 13, 2004 22:53 IST

Congress president Sonia Gandhi's press conference was postponed. She had more pressing matters to resolve as she took stock of a victory that stunned psephologists, the English media and the ruling National Democratic Alliance.

Outside the Congress headquarters in New Delhi, the scene is remarkably low key for a party that is set to come back to power after eight years. The drums, dancers and women are just beginning to arrive, as Gandhi gets down to her first serious discussion about forming a government and ruling the billion-strong-nation.

Jubilant Congress leaders are briskly walking around the headquarters, picking calls, patting each other and receiving applause and appreciation from visitors and journalists. Outside, the crowds are slowly building up as the six victorious Congress candidates from Delhi and their supporters troop into 24 Akbar Road, the party headquarters. Media, both international and national, is already here in full strength.

Spokesperson Jairam Ramesh shakes hands and walks across to the car. Rajya Sabha MP Rajiv Shukla hurries out of a chat to 10 Janpath, adjacent to the Congress headquarters, the Gandhi family's home. "10 number mein bula rahein," Shukla says as he zips off.

A few kilometers away, the Bharatiya Janata Party headquarters is almost deserted. What was lukewarm atmosphere in the morning turns to palpable coldness by afternoon. Spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi conducts a press conference hurriedly and leaves. The journalists are trooping out, television crews are also packing up.

For now, no more action at 11 Ashoka Road.

For the past five years the BJP headquarters, years ahead in technology, order and sophistication compared to the Congress office, was almost the heart of political Delhi. It was where the action was, and Pramod Mahajan, Arun Jaitley, and Sushma Swaraj were its young faces; Muktar Abbas Naqvi, its secular credential. L K Advani was an occasional visitor. Vajpayee dropped in at 11 Ashoka Road on very, very important days. Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi cast a looming shadow over it.

Till now, Sonia Gandhi would walk across to the party headquarters for meetings,  through a pathway from her residence. For the entire day today, she has been ensconced in her house with key aides and senior leaders who drop in occasionally.

At her residence this evening, she would preside over the first Congress Working Committee meeting since the election results started coming out. Confident that history and popular verdict are now behind her, she would address the CWC and later the media, sometime after 9 pm.

Election 2004: The complete coverage

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