New Delhi, Dec 11: Hailing Rahul Gandhi as the "man of the series", senior Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu said on December 11 the party's good show in assembly polls in three states has laid the foundation for a "much bigger win" in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
The cricketer-turned-politician asserted, "All party members and workers played well as a team", resulting in this performance of the Congress, but alleged the imminent loss of the BJP has "exposed the mask of falsehood of the saffron party".
"The anger of the people has come out. Tall and false promises were made to them and those promises were not kept, whether on issue of farmers, housing for the poor or bringing back blackmoney stashed abroad or even skill development," Sidhu said.
The BJP, however, has defended its performance, with Home Minister Rajnath Singh saying the polls were fought on the basis of the work done by the state governments. He rejected the notion that the results would be a reflection of the Narendra Modi government.
Sidhu, the Punjab minister, joined Congress workers at AICC headquarters at 24, Akbar Road in Delhi in celebrating his party's performance. A festive atmosphere dawned at the party office as the results for assembly polls showed Congress taking a lead in the three states.
"Our leader (Rahul Gandhi) has led the team well through the campaign, and results are coming accordingly. We did things right and Rahul Gandhi is the 'man of the match' and the 'man of the series'," Sidhu told PTI in an interview here.
The party workers inside and outside the All India Congress Committee headquarters were ecstatic, sensing victory in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. They distributed sweets and put up big banners of Gandhi on the walls of the Congress office and many chanted 'Rahul Gandhi Zindabad'.
"This is a flood of public support (samarthan ka jansauilab hai) and people have created a foundation for Rahul Gandhi to become the next PM. This is also an indication of the change people seek and the resentment they have been harbouring for the BJP," Sidhu claimed.
Asked what went right in preparations for the polls and what would be the Congress's strategy for the Lok Sabha election, he said, "The party high command will decide that but obviously it will be a people-centric approach."
"Generation of employment, welfare of farmers, among other issues will remain our core areas," he said, adding, farmers, especially in Chhattisgarh have supported Gandhi.
But for the state polls, Sidhu said, it was a "united effort" and the leader at the top was inspiring everybody. "Rahul Gandhi has exhibited great character in a time of crisis, like a captain guiding a ship in choppy waters," he said.
The win in the 2019 polls will be "far more resounding" and this is "merely a trailer, the film is yet to be seen", he asserted.
Asked what went wrong for the BJP, Sidhu, in his trademark tongue-in-cheek humour, said, "Congress is like sugarcane, solid and sweet, but the BJP is akin to a bamboo tree, tall but hollow".
"And that hollowness, reflected in a poor man's bank accounts, bullet train projects, jobs promised, inadequate houses built and in skill-development programme... Modi and his party fought the election on the plank of bringing back blackmoney, but what happened?" Sidhu said.
On fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya's extradition order by a UK court, the Congress leader claimed it was "too little, too late".
Sidhu also alleged that Modi government talks of welfare of the last man in queue (antyodya) and Deen Dayal Upadhyaya but "favours men sitting in the front, the big businessmen".
Asked, what he enjoyed more, cricket or politics, he said, "Politics, of course. It is very rewarding, and gives opportunity to change people's lives."
"Cricket and TV are merciless medium, as one talks of absolute numbers. But politics is more challenging, as numbers fluctuate there," he said.
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