"UP, Bihar Changing Day By Day": Congress Leader's Big Claim Ahead Of Polls

"We won 20 seats in Kerala last time. We lost one seat. We will win all 20 this time," KC Venugopal told NDTV

Congress's KC Venugopal -- candidate from Kerala's Alapuzzha -- has expressed confidence that the party would have a better performance this time, despite contesting the lowest number of seats ever across India. It would sweep Kerala, do better in other southern states and even in the Hindi heartland, where its presence is minimal, he claimed.  

The Congress, he made it clear, is hoping win all 20 seats in Kerala, will sweep Tamil Nadu where the party is in alliance with the DMK.

"We won 20 seats in Kerala last time. We lost one seat. We will win all 20 this time," Mr Venugopal told NDTV in an exclusive interview given while on the campaign trail.

Like 2014 and 2019, the BJP would not be able to open its account in the state, he added. "People there know about the current political situation. They will stand against the BJP," he added, without going into details.

The prospect is bright in other southern states too, he claimed.

In Karnataka, it would a "good battle" with the party winning 15 to 20 seats out of 28. In Telangana it would be 12-plus seats. "Andhra we have started fighting and should win one or two seats," he added.

Asked about the showing of the party in the Hindi heartland, Mr Venugopal said the performance will be far better in the northern states, including Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

In the Hindi heartland, the "situation totally changed," Mr Venugopal insisted. "Day by day the situation is changing. Bihar, Uttar Pradesh changing.  Comfortable number will come from Bihar, UP," he said.

The Congress numbers in Uttar Pradesh, a state it once dominated, had for long shrunk to Gandhi pocketboroughs of Amethi and Raebareli out of 80 seats.

In 2019, Rahul Gandhi lost Amethi to Smriti Irani, bringing the number down to one. This time, the party is yet to announce candidates for either seat. There is huge expectation that the Gandhi siblings will contest both.   

In Bihar, the party won a single seat in 2019. The contest in both states are with the INDIA alliance partners – Samajwadi Party in UP and Tejashwi Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal in Bihar.

Asked why the party is contesting the lowest number of seats since inception, Mr Venugopal said the "current political scenario is very dangerous".

There is no level playing field… There are ED raids… media space has been captured," he said. Under the circumstances, the party's priority is to push the BJP out of power.

But he denied that the Congress was acting like the "big brother" in the INDIA alliance. "We are committed to defeating the BJP," he added.