18th Lok Sabha Elections: Implications of the Results

  • Congress President Shri Mallikarjun Kharge

Dear friends, The mandate received in the 18th Lok Sabha elections has infused a new energy in the Congress workers. We humbly accepted the mandate that came on June 4, 2024. It is clear that no one party got an absolute majority in the elections. The ruling BJP had sought votes on the basis of ‘one person, one face’, but it suffered a moral defeat. Prime Minister Narendra Modi repeatedly gave the slogan of ‘400 Paar’, seeking votes with the guarantee of his name, but the public rejected it.

The election machinery and the entire system was against the opposition as much as it was with the ruling party. Filled with this vain confidence, Modiji said many things against the ‘coalition government’, and went on to say that “Coalition governments have tarnished India’s image in the world. The country has lost 30 years because of these governments and now there is no need for a coalition government.”

But the public brought him to such a state of helplessness that he had to form a coalition government with parties having opposing ideologies. Congress had given a stable coalition government under the leadership of Dr. Manmohan Singh during 2004 to 2014. During that time, the pace of development of the country accelerated under the UPA government and a new chapter of social justice was written. The false propaganda and conspiracies of the BJP had damaged the image of our government. But the people of the country understood the character of the BJP sooner or later. You all know that the Congress Party and all the allies of the INDIA Alliance fought this election in an extremely unfavourable environment. After independence, no ruling party or government had behaved so undemocratically with the opposition parties. Instead of equal opportunity, discrimination was done at every step and the caretaker government harassed the opposition parties in various ways by misusing ED, CBI, Income Tax Department and other agencies. Two Chief Ministers of the INDIA Alliance were sent to jail, many ministers were harassed. The account of the All India Congress Committee was seized. The accounts of Mahila Congress and Youth Congress were also seized.

The government deliberately did this to ensure that we could not use our own money in the elections. Government agencies tried to prevent us from getting donations from anywhere in the elections by intimidating us. Our potential supporters were harassed and intimidated. What the BJP itself did in the name of electoral bonds, what kind of business it did, is no longer a secret. But none of these tricks worked.

While I am writing these things, I would also like to express my gratitude to the President of the Congress Parliamentary Party, Smt. Sonia Gandhi. While leading the Party for a long time since 1998, she built the organization with hard work, gave strength to all of us by treading the path of truth, worked to bring forth capable leadership at the lower level in the organization, due to which the Congress Party has remained at the centre of people’s aspirations, dismantling all the conspiracies of the government.

Rahul Gandhi Ji’s hard work and dedication through the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’, ‘Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra’ and the subsequent election campaign helped us a lot. After this experience and extensive brainstorming, the Congress party put forward its idea of ‘5 Nyay, 25 Guarantees’ before the people. All of you workers went among the people with the guarantee card and stood bravely in the field. You kept raising the issues of inflation, unemployment, the plight of farmers and labourers, misuse of democratic institutions and threat to our Constitution. Our campaign remained positive and that is what became the secret of our success.

We are happy that the poor, farmers, labourers, Dalit, tribal and OBC brothers and sisters and common people supported our views and worked to save the Constitution. I think it is important to mention here that the person who won with the highest number of votes in the country is Rakibul Hussain - by making him victorious with more than 10.12 lakh votes, the voters have given a message to the BJP.

On the basis of this mandate, I want to assure the countrymen that in the future, no one can even think of tampering with the Constitution. But we will need to be cautious of the immoral thinking of the ruling party.

The Prime Minister holds a dignified position and ideal behaviour is expected of him. But in this election, unfortunately, communal frenzy was spread from his level too. Rumours were spread regarding the election manifesto of the Congress party as well.

Despite the slogan of “400 paar”, BJP lost in seats like Ayodhya, Allahabad, Chitrakoot, Nashik, Rameswaram and Tirupati. Work was also done to spread regionalism and hatred. All this comes under the violation of the model code of conduct, but the Election Commission ignored it.

The Election Commission is responsible for the model code of conduct, but it ignored the fact that the Prime Minister spoke about temple-mosque, Muslims and dividing the society 421 times.224 times he used words like Muslim, Pakistan, minority only to spread communal frenzy.

In the past years, the countrymen remember the numerous insulting remarks made by the ruling party against the great hero - Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Even after losing the elections, the BJP people are now misusing Nehru Ji’s name to show their victory on the basis of fallacies.

After the elections of 1952, 1957 and 1962 under Nehru Ji’s leadership, India’s Democracy and Constitution got strengthened. During that time, many great works like social justice, equality, land reforms were done with due consent of the Parliament. Historic works were done with the establishment of countless institutions.

But the opposite happened in the Modi government. Talking about Parliament, the 17th Lok Sabha was the weakest in terms of meetings. A total of 274 meetings were held in 5 years, whereas the first Lok Sabha under Nehru Ji’s leadership had 677 meetings. Lok Sabha meetings were held for 332 days in UPA-1 and 356 days in UPA-2. Therefore, these comparisons do not make sense. If the BJP feels so much Parliamentary democracy, then it should make Parliament a platform for dialogue and improve its functioning again.

I have a long experience of contesting elections and getting others to contest. After the implementation of the ‘Code of Conduct’ for the 18th Lok Sabha elections, I addressed hundreds of public meetings in the country. I interacted with media persons. I saw and heard a lot, so I am sharing some of my thoughts with you. In this election, I was most pained by the statement of the Prime Minister in which he said that the world came to know about Gandhiji only after watching Richard Attenborough’s film.

A few days after this statement, the statue of the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, which was installed at the most prominent place in the Parliament House, was shifted to the backside of the Parliament. It was installed by the then President Shankardayal Sharma Ji in 1993 during the rule of the Congress. All parties have been paying obeisance here and from time-to-time, opposition MPs have also been protesting here in a democratic manner.

After the elections, the Prime Minister on one hand bowed the Constitution of India, and on the other hand, the statue of Baba Saheb Dr. Ambedkar, which was installed at a prominent place in the Parliament House on April 2, 1967, was removed. It would have been better if the statues of the Father of the Nation and the Constitution-maker had remained in their place. But they were removed arbitrarily. Parliament has an established practice and a Committee which decides regarding statues, of which I have also been a member. This committee has not been reconstituted after 2019.

Many things can be said about the elections. But all of you are wise. You have closely seen the ground reality of a decade. The mandate that Congress received in this election was due to the willpower, determination and working together of all of you. The partners of INDIA Alliance stood with us in one voice and with great coordination. I congratulate and thank all of you. We have to continue collective efforts with this team spirit. We have been weak in states like Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Odisha, we need to work there with new energy and vigour. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had famously said in Delhi in 1952 after reviewing the first Lok Sabha elections, “We were successful in elections where we worked among the people. If we do not mingle with the people, do not work amongst them, then we cannot hope to win their trust.”

We have to stand with the people in their happiness and sorrow. We have to keep raising issues of common public with vigour along with the question of the betterment of Democracy and the Constitution.

With best wishes, (Mallikarjun Kharge)