Above: Opposition parties in a meeting (representative image)
By Dilip Bobb
While all the heavy analysis and fiery television debates focused on the myriad factors and calibrated strategies designed to give this government another term, there was not much clarity in the confabs and neither was there any evidence of it in the post-election meeting held by non-BJP parties. Here’s how it went.
Priyanka Gandhi: All is not lost, keep the faith and do not lose hope…
Mamata Banerjee: All losers are not losers. Some losers are winners.
Rahul Gandhi: I imagine you are speaking about me. I lost in Amethi but won in Wayanad, so I’m both a loser and a winner. I adopted the strategy of the north- south divide and that is an illustration of good leadership.
Arvind Kejriwal: It is the failure of the Congress to stitch up alliances that has led the opposition being torn asunder and drowning in the Modi wave. You played to his strengths—remember that hug you gave him in parliament? Well, he is the master hugger and it only made you look like a spurned lover. The Congress should really be looking at a change of leadership.
Rahul: My remarks after the election were in that context, Janata Maalik Hai. The Congress Working Committee is meeting right now to decide who will take my place.
Yechury: Who are they likely to elect?
Chandrababu Naidu: You also said Love will win, well I saw very little evidence of that, quite the opposite. This election has been a learning experience, apart from the frequent flyer miles I have accumulated. In all my hectic parleys with opposition leaders, it was clear no one wanted to deal with the Congress, everyone wanted more seats than they could possibly win, at the expense of those who could. In all my years as a successful politician, I have never encountered so many egos. We lost because we put all those egos in one basket. Now, we are all basket cases.
Deve Gowda: You were flying all over the country while your opponent in Andhra was on a padyatra. The results prove that those with their feet on the ground are more credible than those with their head in the clouds.
Lalu Yadav: I also learnt some valuable lessons sitting in jail. The man who matters is the one with the 56- inch chest, the power to intimidate and the ability to strike fear in his opponents even while meditating in a cell.
Sharad Pawar: I think the most valuable lesson we have all learnt is that conventional electoral wisdom has been turned on its head; all that talk about agrarian distress, joblessness, corruption, caste, demonetisation, GST, secularism etc, didn’t seem to matter much to the average voter. They were clearly looking for something else
Rahul: Yes, I kept harping on the Rafale deal and coined the slogan chowkidar chor hai but it doesn’t seem to have cut much ice. I mean corruption was a big issue during the UPA years.
Mamata: It was, which is why we had a change of government.
Mayawati: Our problem is that we had no credible leader to put up as a prime ministerial alternative. I was quite willing to be the one but the Congress refused to back me, or anyone else for that matter.
Digvijay Singh: I even turned into a fakir to outsmart that fake fakir but it didn’t work; so we now have the second Bhopal gas tragedy.
Ajit Singh: Another poisonous gas leak.
Digvijay Singh: You could say that, I meant Pragya Thakur.
Sonia Gandhi: Let’s focus on what we need to do as an alliance. What are the lessons to be learnt? What works as a vote catcher?
Akhilesh Yadav: Surgical strikes into Pakistan, praising the armed forces, saying Jai Hind and singing Vande Matram. Those seem to be the new vote catchers. But we need to change that and focus on the restoration of democracy.
Sharad Pawar: There is only one obvious lesson to be learnt from election 2019, or maybe three. Modi, Modi, Modi.
Yechury: Here’s another. Democracy is too important to be left in the hands of the people.