Sanjay Gandhi (left) with Kamal Nath and Jagdish Tytler (right).
Madhya Pradesh Congress president Kamal Nath on Tuesday advised party workers not to get disheartened by the loss in the just-held assembly polls and instead pull their socks up and focus on preparations for the Lok Sabha elections which are just a few months away.
Seeking to boost the morale of party workers, Mr Nath recalled the Congress's crushing defeat in the post-Emergency 1977 Lok Sabha polls, when even stalwarts like Indira Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi bit the dust, and how the party bounced back and recorded an impressive win three years later in 1980, bagging more than 300 seats in the Lower House of Parliament.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) bagged 163 of the 230 assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh, while the Congress recorded victory in 66 segments, finishing a distant second in the November 17 polls results of which were declared on December 3.
"We have lost this (assembly) election, but I remember that in 1977 also we lost (Lok Sabha polls) more badly than this. At that time, our top leaders like Indira Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi, too, lost. It looked like the entire atmosphere was against the Congress. But we got united and entered the poll arena. After three years elections were held and the party won more than 300 seats and Indira Gandhi formed a full majority government," maintained the former CM.
The 77-year-old Congress stalwart, who retained the Chhindwara assembly seat, urged party workers to put aside the assembly poll drubbing and work earnestly for victory in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
"We should wholeheartedly work for the Lok Sabha polls to be held after four months to form our government (at the Centre)," Mr Nath said, addressing winning and losing Congress candidates in the state at the party office here.
He asked party candidates and newly elected MLAs to send him two separate reports detailing reasons behind the Congress's defeat in 10 days.
The former Union minister announced he would tour the entire state in run-up to the Lok Sabha polls.
During the meeting, Congress candidates alleged anomalies in Electronic Voting Machines and claimed EVMs were found to be 99 per cent charged even after being used for more than 10 hours on the polling day, giving rise to suspicion that they were either replaced or tampered with, especially in constituencies where the party lost by a big margin, a Congress spokesman said.
They pointed out that the party was way ahead during the counting of postal ballots, but the trend changed when EVM votes were taken up for tallying, said the spokesman.
Mr Nath assured them that he will raise the issue with the Congress's central leadership.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)