UP, Punjab outcome a lesson: Cong

New Delhi: Acknowledging that the election results in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab did not match its expectations, Congress today said the poll outcome was a "lesson" for the party, but will not affect the UPA government at the Centre in anyway.

"…the reasons for our not getting as much as…Probably we projected for ourselves. We will sit and learn. Every election does teach us a lesson," Congress leader Ambika Soni said here.

Putting up a brave face, Soni said the poll was not a disappointment for them.
"Actually when you fight to make governments in all the states and one or two are slipping out of your hands, you do feel what went wrong," she said.

Party leader Rajiv Shukla also admitted that the results, especially in Punjab, were disappointing for the party, but also pointed out that Congress has improved its previous tally in Uttar Pradesh. "It is disappointing for us as far as Punjab is concerned. As far as UP is concerned, we have not done as we wanted. We wanted to get at least 70-80 seats, but we have not been able to get that," Shukla said.

On a question whether the Congress would support the formation of a SP government in Uttar Pradesh, he said that the decision would be taken by the party high command after the results are out.

"We will get something between 50-60 seats according to current trends which are available and our vote percentage has gone up. Now we are party to reckon with in the state. So far we were no where," he added.

Asked whether the results was against the verdict of UPA government at the Centre, Soni replied in the negative. "Not at all. UPA has a mandate which it got in 2009 for five years. The agendas were different, the issues were different. Naturally the issue of Vidhan Sabha is very different. It does not affect the Central government," she said.

At the same time, she also dismissed suggestions that Team Anna had an impact on the poll results. "I do not think Team Anna was really…I was in Punjab for 15 days and I did not see their campaign reflected in any newspaper or television channel," she replied.

Asked whether the non-passage of Lokpal Bill had any impact on votes, Soni said her party was always for a strong Lokpal and could not be blamed for its delay.
"We tried to bring a strong Lokpal. Everybody knows, we don`t have the numbers in Rajya Sabha. What prevented BJP from supporting it in Rajya Sabha when they supported it in the Lok Sabha?" she asked.

Talking about the trends, she said, "We are making government in some states but not probably all now. In Manipur, most certainly, but others are also not ruled out and Punjab is a very close call."

However, she refused to comment on her party`s performance in Punjab. "I can not straight off tell you reasons for Akalis doing better. Election was supposed to be quite a close one and you (exit polls) also predicted a close call," she said.

The Union minister accepted that the Congress should have "caught the weakness of Akali`s rule in Punjab" and said, "their (Akali`s) corruption for five years for which people were tired, may be we should have pushed those points harder."

Soni said Captain Amarinder Singh led from the front and was also declared as the Chief Ministerial candidate by party General Secretary Rahul Gandhi.

"Amarinder led us from the front. The general perception was that Congress would do better with Amarinder as the Captain. Also there was a lot of propaganda. In order to lessen that vicious campaign by Akalis, Rahul Gandhi had announced and it helped us consolidate our position," she said.

Meanwhile, Shukla also hit at the BJP who it said was criticising Rahul Gandhi without having gained any ground in Uttar Pradesh. "We have improved from 22 to 50-60 seats. They (BJP) have gone up from 49-50 to 55-56 seats. Actually they have not gained anything but since morning they have been abusing Rahul Gandhi (and) Congress Party," he claimed.