Despite losing northeast, Congress on revival path in Hindi belt: Scindia

FILE PHOTO: Congress MP Jyotiraditya Scindia
The Congress may have suffered a crushing defeat in the Northeast, but senior leader Jyotiraditya Scindia feels that there are "very strong signs" of the party's resurgence in the Hindi heartland which would be crucial in the 2019 general election.

Buoyed by the party's victory in the recent by-polls in the Mungaoli and Kolaras Assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh, he also said the people had decided to end the 14-year BJP rule in the state where elections are scheduled to be held later this year.

Scindia, widely seen as the front runner among the Congress's chief ministerial candidates for Madhya Pradesh, also urged "like-minded" parties to join hands to oust the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government in the state.

In an interview to PTI, he said the Assembly poll outcome in Nagaland and Tripura came as a "shock".

In Meghalaya, he pointed out, the Congress had emerged as the single largest party.

"...but the BJP true to its game believes in forming governments by default and a party that has won only two seats in that Assembly was trying every trick in the book to put together a government," he said.

However, "having said that, I think you've had very strong signs of resurgence in the Hindi heartland," the 47-year-old leader said.

The Congress drew a blank in Tripura and Nagaland, while in Meghalaya it failed to form the government. The BJP has come to power in all the three states forming coalition governments.

Scindia also asserted that the Gujarat Assembly poll result was "truly inspiring". The MP from Madhya Pradesh's Guna said this was followed by the results in the Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh by-polls, won by the Congress.

"These are all states which are crucial to the Congress party going ahead. So I think the barometer and the portent that these states portray are very important signs for the Congress party," he said.

However, the Congress's chief whip in the Lok Sabha said there was still a lot of work to be done by party workers as "we must never take our opponent lightly".

Scindia also dismissed talk of infighting within the party in MP, saying the Congress was a united house in the state.

"We have been working together for the last year, year and a half. We are strategising, planning every activity together, which is what you have seen in these two by-elections. Every single leader of the Congress party was present in this by-election," Scindia said.

"So, I can understand why the BJP is extremely concerned," he added.

Asked if Congress should name a chief ministerial candidate in MP, Scindia said, "I am not going to speak on this issue because I don't think it would be apt. This is a decision that has to be taken by the general secretary and by the Congress high command."

Terming the recent by-poll win in Madhya Pradesh a "very important triumph", he said the Congress won despite the BJP throwing "everything but the kitchen sink" into the election.

It was the might of the government versus the ordinary Congress worker, Scindia said.

"I also do believe that in Madhya Pradesh voters have made up their minds to see the end of the BJP rule in our state for a multitude of reasons," he said.

The Congress last month retained both the Assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh where by-polls were held.

Brajendra Singh Yadav of the Congress defeated his BJP rival Baisahab Yadav by a 2,124 votes to win the Mungaoli seat while in Kolaras, Congress candidate Mahendra Singh Yadav prevailed over Devendra Jain of the BJP by 8,083 votes.

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