- Priyanka Gandhi releases an audio message for party workers
- She advises them not to get discouraged by the "rumours" and exit polls
- "We are confident that our combined efforts will bear fruit," she says
A day after exit polls predicted a sweeping victory for the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the Lok Sabha elections, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi on Monday released an audio message advising party workers to not fall for "rumours" intended to make them drop their guard ahead of the counting of votes on May 23.
"My dear Congress workers, sisters and brothers... Don't let rumours and exit polls discourage you. This is being done just to break your determination. It is very important that you remain alert amid all this. Please continue to keep vigil outside strongrooms and counting centres. We are confident that our combined efforts will bear fruit," she was heard saying in the clip.
The poll of polls, an aggregate of exit polls released just after voting concluded at 6 pm on Sunday, predicted that the NDA would sweep over 300 of the country's 543 parliamentary seats while the Congress and its allies manage around 120. It also showed the BJP making deep inroads in West Bengal, winning 13 of its 42 seats, and making big gains in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh despite surprise losses in last year's assembly elections.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had expressed a similar sentiment on Sunday, hours after the exit polls were released. "I don't trust Exit Poll gossip. The game plan is to manipulate or replace thousands of EVMs through this gossip. I appeal to all opposition parties to be united, strong and bold. We will fight this battle together," she tweeted. The Trinamool chief has long supported unity among diverse political parties to defeat the BJP.
Lalu Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal, which was also shown to be trailing behind the ruling BJP-Janata Dal (United) combine in Bihar by most exit polls, also made light of the post-election predictions. "Exit polls happen. It is a business decision made by news channels to show exit polls that favour the party liked by their target audiences. They don't want people to turn their teleivison sets off in disappointment because then the TRPs (television rating points) will plummet. This is also why they are so excited by the exit polls," it said in a tweet on Sunday evening.
Incidentally, a heated debate erupted outside a strongroom in Uttar Pradesh's Mirzapur on Monday evening as joint opposition candidate Afzal Ansari alleged that there was an attempt to whisk away electronic voting machines. The police and the district administration have denied Mr Ansari's charge.