Anti-BJP front in sights, Rahul Gandhi meets Sharad Pawar

Anti-BJP front in sights, Rahul Gandhi meets Sharad Pawar

They can not support the BJP.

The Congress, they pointed out, would naturally be the beneficiary as it was the sole national alternative to the BJP. However, the Congress, which fought the elections independently, faired poorly with its candidates losing their deposits in the elections.

The outcome of the March 11 bypolls has sparked talk in political circles about a continuing pact between the SP and the BSP - once bitter critics in Uttar Pradesh. The party has been trying to position Rahul Gandhi as leader of the youth, a social segment that accounts for around 65% population, thereby making them the largest vote-bank of the country. "Congratulations to the winning candidates", the Congress chief tweeted. And no, because notwithstanding what Rahul Gandhi's detractors feel, the fact was that it was a smart move - many say taken in consultation with the SP-BSP - by the Congress to field a Brahmin candidate in Phulpur, a way to ensure the division of upper-caste votes, with the BJP nominee also a Brahmin.

"The Congress will look forward to "Navnirman" in Uttar Pradesh, it won't happen overnight", he added.

With 2019 elections in mind and stopping Modi-Shah poll juggernaut, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi hosted a dinner at her residence 10, Janpath on Tuesday night which saw participation of leaders of 20 opposition parties.

Sonia's message to all leaders was to keep aside differences at the state level and forge a unity to take on Modi in the Lok Sabha elections unitedly and do not give him chance to take advantage of division of the opposition votes that mustered him win nearly 150 seats in the 2014 elections. "District and Block level leaders will get a chance to speak more", said party's General Secretary KC Venugopal.

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The Congress does not believe that fighting the two seats alone was a tactical mistake. Clarifying to media that dinner with opposition leaders should not be seen from a political angle, Congress party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said, "This dinner hosted by Sonia Gandhi ji for opposition parties should not be seen from the prism of politics, it was for friendship and better dialogue between parties".

"Rahulji has given us instructions that more and more young leaders should be brought ahead and so that they can drive Congress party keeping current changing times in mind".

"This defeat is definitely an unexpected one", said UP BJP spokesperson Rakesh Tripathi.

The BJP failed to break the jinx of repeated failures in Parliamentary by-elections in 2018 when it was defeated yesterday in Gorakhpur, the bastion of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, and Phulpur, earlier held by deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya. They lost despite deployment of all the resources and manpower. "This is a part of that effort", said expelled Janata Dal-United leader Sharad Yadav said when asked if there would be a opposition-party front in 2019.

"The psychological boost these results have provided to the Congress leaders and workers is immeasurable".

- Plus, the party will dwell on its prospects in elections to key states of Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh slated in 2018. After the next Lok Sabha election, the Congress is expecting a 2004-like situation when the UPA-led by it came to power.

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