New Delhi: Just when it seemed everything was not hunky-dory in the Congress's Maharashtra unit with party heavyweight Narayan Rane quitting on a bitter note, the Nanded-Waghala Municipal Corporation (NWMC) poll results came as a shot in the arm for the party, its leaders say.
Led by Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee president Ashok Chavan, the party registered an emphatic victory in the October 11 NWMC polls, clinching 73 of the 81 seats, whereas the state's ruling BJP could bag only six seats.
While leaving the party last month, former chief minister Rane had slammed Chavan, alleging that the latter did not have "any qualification" to head the party at state level.
"The sheer magnitude of the victory is such...it marks an upward swing for us post-2014 general elections," said a party leader, wishing not to be named.
The leader said the NWMC poll results have "charged up" the party workers in Maharashtra, where the BJP made unprecedented gains winning 12 of the 16 civic bodies that went to polls this year.
"The problem our party faced so far was that our workers and leaders did not reach out to the masses. People are angry with the ruling party as the Nanded results have shown. We are now working on mass outreach programmes to tap the anger," another leader said.
The second leader added that the party was focussing on channelising the dissatisfaction with the BJP-led central and state governments among various sections of people--farmers, traders, government employees, the youth, etc.
Another leader of the party from Maharashtra cited the example of a protest the party staged last Monday over the governments' alleged apathy towards several issues relating to farmers.
"Our effort will also be to give relief to the people as we try to regain strength. People are tired of the BJP's rhetoric. We don't want to tread the path of making hollow promises," the Maharashtra leader added.
Asked for comment, AICC general secretary in-charge of Maharashtra Mohan Prakash hailed the party's show in the civic polls. He also quipped that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah were not "courteous enough" to congratulate the BJP's rival party on its victory as expected by people in a democratic set-up.
"The prime minister and Shah have habits of tweeting congratulatory messages on victories of their party even at local levels. So, people expected them to tweet about Nanded too. But there has been a lack of courtesy in their behaviour," he said.
Asked how he saw the party's successes in the NWMC and also in Parbhani, Bhiwandi and Malegaon civic body polls held this year, he noted people got polarised as they found a "viable alternative" in the Congress.
Rane, who has considerable influence in the Konkan region, floated a new party--Maharashtra Swabhiman Paksh-- which he said would be a part of the BJP-led NDA.
Mohan Prakash of the Congress said that his party would "not use clutches of parties lacking ideology similar to it" while moving forward in the state.
"We are not (like) the BJP (to allegedly join hands with the parties having different ideologies). If the need arises, we may look up to like-minded parties. But our party has not decided anything on the issue as of now," he said.