‘The opposition played dirty. They ridiculed my Hindi’
Samajwadi Party candidate Nafisa Ali says she was unprepared to contest in Lucknow, where she campaigned only for 18 days
High-profile and seasoned politicians try to come to terms with defeat
THE DANGER WAS that the NDA would form the government by some default. But now I’m so happy that that possibility is out of the picture. I always say my country comes first, and my party comes second. So I wouldn’t say I have lost. I am still young in politics. I will grow slowly and steadily. The Opposition played dirty politics with me. Rita Bahuguna Joshi ridiculed my Hindi. I can only participate in the politics of dignity and accountability. The media too has generally been very supportive but certain kinds of media wanted to be paid to write about you. And I wasn’t ready to do so. Azam Khan’s pro-Congress stand and his ridiculing the Samajwadi Party (SP) for no reason while being the SP general secretary was disgraceful. It confused the voter again. So the Congress benefited.
I don’t think I lost at all. I don’t regret not joining the Congress. My dream was that the SP becomes the alliance at the Centre. SP is the only party that can take on Mayawati on the ground. I am an activist and I am deeply troubled by what is happening in Uttar Pradesh. I hope the SP gives me a position of importance in the party hierarchy and then I will work towards making it a national party.
I was unprepared for the elections and then I went suddenly to Lucknow. You have to contest in an area that you work or live in. That factor also must have taken its toll on my chances of winning. But the party leadership was phenomenally supportive.
‘Anti-incumbency can’t be the reason. Only I lost’
Senior Congress leader and former Union Minister for Panchayati Raj Mani Shankar Aiyar rues the high expectations of his constituency
BETTER COORDINATION WITHIN and between the parties might have overcome the decline. Also, perhaps I had stoked very high expectations of myself when I was a backbench MP and that’s what my constituency Mayiladuturai knew about me in the last 13 years. Then, in the last five years as a minister, I have inevitably had to cut down my visits. Although I did try to make it once a month, it was less time than I spent earlier.
I would say the factors were serious mismanagement at the level of coordination, not pulling the alliance partners together and some element of voter fatigue. Anti-incumbency cannot be a reason because the DMK has come back in such a glorious number. Immediately around me in the constituencies of Nagapattinam, Thanjavur, Perambalur, Chidambaram and Kadalur we won. I was the only one who lost.
Jayalalithaa would have won but for our stupid media, which kept projecting to her that she was going to win by a huge margin. After the elections were over political commentator Yogendra Yadav pointed out that the hype actually went against her. Media had lulled her into complacency and they got it all wrong. Only people on the ground got it all right. From the beginning Mr Karunanidhi had predicted a massive DMK-alliance victory and that is exactly what happened.
‘I Had To Face Atalji’s Legacy’
I WANTED TO contest from my home district Allahabad but when Sanjay Dutt lost the case in the Supreme Court, the party could not locate a strong candidate for this seat. Just a day before the nomination, Sonia Gandhi asked me to file my nomination. I had to face two powerful opponents — BSP’S Akhilesh Das, who spent crores to woo the voters, and the legacy of Atal Behari Vajpayee. The BJP even circulated a letter with Atalji’s signature that it was his last will that this seat be retained by the BJP. If I had another seven days, I would have won.
‘Lalu’s hard work paid off’
IT WAS A meltdown. No one anticipated this. It was one of the best elections I have ever fought — no violence, no booth grabbing. The loss in Saran was a surprise but in retrospect it seems Lalu Yadav’s development agenda favoured him. Lalu brought in an investment of Rs 10,000 crore in a small constituency — one rail engine factory and one coach factory. I did trouble, confront and contest him. I kept him confined to Saran for a very long time and I was martyred in the process. It was a fair battle and his hard work paid off. But, after all, defeat is defeat and you have to appreciate it.
‘The Seculars Were Divided’
I TAKE THE defeat in my stride. Nobody can say Paswan has not worked for Hajipur. If I have lost despite all this, it is just the wish of the people. I will continue to serve them. It is good that secular parties under the banner of UPA have won all across the country and the prospects of NDA, which has been trying to come to power, have ended. I lost because the secular vote got divided. We would have got two-third the seats which have gone to JD(U) had we contested together. Before the next assembly elections, we must ensure that LJP, RJD and Congress have a clear alliance.
‘Truth Lost In Rampur’
DECEPTION AND WEALTH won. Service and truth lost in Rampur. The real issues got diluted in the C-grade filmi drama that took place between Azam Khan, Jaya Prada and Amar Singh. While the BJP stayed away from mud-slinging politics, the electorate thought that this was the only fight being fought. The media also played it up because of the masala — a hero, heroine and a villain. Jaya Prada had no agenda or work to show and I was stronger. A lot of money was used in this fight and the SP used both Hindu and Muslim religious leaders to work against us.
‘Voters Have Shocked US’
THE AMBEDKAR NAGAR voters have shocked us. It’s very difficult to assess the voters’ mood and the issues that appeal to them. Sarees and money were distributed to voters. The Electronic Voting Machines are unreliable too. If you keep pressing the button continuously for a minute then a 100 votes can get registered. Since the constituency was previously held by Mayawati, so the polling officers just had to do these things, otherwise they would have got punished later. The other reason may be the loan waiver and the NREGA which might have influenced the rural voters.
‘I Can Only Make Promises’
WHEN I CHOSE this seat, I knew I had taken a risk because to fight alone in Maharashtra is difficult. The others had the support of their alliance partners. The BJP allied with the Shiv Sena and the Congress with the NCP. Despite that, I was hopeful that I would get the north Indian vote. But I can only make promises, I cannot give the north Indians security. Therefore they voted for the Congress. To fight a Lok Sabha seat alone, especially for a person from the minority, is very difficult task. It’s impossible for the SP to fight elections alone in Maharashtra.
‘What Can We Do When There Is A Wave?’
WE DID OUR best this time. The margin was reduced to 22,000. But the entire belt has gone to the BJP. I have done a lot for the constituency but when there is a particular wave, what can we do? Congress has lost 19 constituencies in the state. Maybe the party was not strong enough to face the BJP. They are in the government and have been throwing money around. I also feel that they managed to get the rural support. They are also playing the Hindutva card in a big way. Not one minority has been elected from Karnataka. More attention will have to be paid in Karnataka, because it has always been a Congress state. To an extent it can be attributed to the divide in the Congress. A number of senior Congress leaders left and joined the BJP. Fifteen of the 20 candidates the BJP put up were borrowed. I’d also say that the JD(S) was responsible for creating sympathy for the BJP by pulling down their government and not allowing them the chief ministership as they had promised. A secular party has itself has helped them get a foothold in a state where they never existed.
(As told to Shobhita Naithani and Neha Dixit)
‘Under the Congress rule, lots of real estate agents made big bucks and have voted for them’
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MANVENDRA SINGH, former BJP MP The son of Jaswant Singh on why he lost in Barmer, Rajasthan
‘There was a pro-Congress wave in Delhi. Leaders much senior than me have also succumbed’
CHETAN CHAUHAN, former BJP MP and cricketer On being defeated by Sandeep Dikshit in East Delhi by a 2.4 lakh margin
‘Smaller parties such as LJP and independents cut into our Muslim votes, which proved disastrous ’
SHANKARSINH VAGHELA, Former Union Textile Minister On losing in Panchmahal,Gujarat
‘BJP leaders cancelled their rallies and upset the farmers by making them wait for hours during the harvest season’
ASHOK PRADHAN, BJP leader On why he lost from Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh
‘More than 30 percent of our voters are Muslims. Congress polarised our Muslim votes’
SANTOSH GANGWAR, Six-time BJP MP On losing inBareilly, UP to the Congress
‘I have CDs of BJP candidate Naveen Kateel’s hate speeches but I chose not to highlight them.’
JANARDHAN POOJARY, Former Union Minister and Senior Congress leader On the Congress rout in Mangalore
‘The electorate didn’t approve that we praised the UPA for the five years in Parliament and then suddenly broke all ties’
RAGHUNATH JHA, RJD leader and former Union Minister On why he lost in Valmikinagar, Bihar
‘I was reluctant to contest this election because of my age. I am yet to analyse the reasons why I lost’
AR ANTULAY, Former Union Minister of Minority Affairs On losing in Raigad, Maharashtra