There was a chaos-like celebration at the Delhi headquarters of the All India Congress Committee party on Tuesday as the results came in taking the Congress and I.N.D.I.A bloc to an impressive 222 out of the 543 Lok Sabha seats. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lost its national majority after suffering major losses in key states like Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and Maharashtra.

At the Congress office, celebrations continued into the night and supporters and party workers danced and played the dhol all evening. Party and National Flags were waved enthusiastically t as people poured in.

Under the scorching sun, young and old cadres of the Congress party had started gathering at the party headquarters early morning onward.

Lakshman Shavalekeshwal, who hails from Maharashtra stood wearing a tri-colour outfit, and waved the National Flag with full enthusiasm. A small-time party worker, he had travelled from his home state to Delhi as he did not wish to miss the counting day celebrations.

Shavalekeshwal said he knew that “Rahul Gandhi would have come to power no matter what”. He added that the Maharashtra government has “thrown away the hate mongering party”.

“Rahul Gandhi ki sarkar banne wali hai ab. In Maharashtra Sharad Pawar ji has won and BJP is nowhere. This is enough for us. And these people who left Congress for BJP will come back to Congress once again,” he said.

A staunch loyal supporter of Gandhi, Shavalekeshwal said that BJP promised the people good days, but they did not come. “They made false promises to the people. There are so many farmers in debt and they did nothing about it. Farmers are also suffering so much. Even the women were disappointed with BJP and everyone voted against them,” he said.

Most of the cadres, who have been on the ground during the campaign and voting, said that they had observed the people’s anger. Tresha, a member of India Youth Congress said that this time the fight was tough.

“Even if we did not win, at least the opposition is strong this time. We will give BJP a strong fight this time as well. Exit polls only spread misinformation to brainwash the people, but the public have put their strong point of view,” she said.

Om Prakash Yadav, who hails from Uttar Pradesh said that it is important for Rahul Gandhi to become the Prime Minister of India. “I just feel this is important because I feel he is the one person who can work for the benefit of the people,” he added.

As evening came and poll results showed the I.N.D.I.A bloc emerge as a strong Opposition alliance, Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and Mallikarjun Kharge addressed the press conference. All the leaders looked confident and had smiles on their faces.

Holding the red-bound copy of the Constitution of India booklet, Gandhi said that these elections were fought to save the governance and structure of this country.

“From EDI to CBI and even half the court, we fought against them. Narendra Modi and Amit Shah had captured these institutions as they have intimidated them. This election was not fought against a political party,” he said.

On Kishori Lal Sharma winning the Amethi seat, Gandhi said that BJP does not respect people. “Kishori Lal Sharma has been working in Amethi for the past 40 years. He is very closely connected to the people of Amethi. I congratulate him. It is wrong to say he is a PA,” he added.

Sharma has won the Amethi seat against Smriti Irani by almost 1,67,196 seats.

On whether the Congress will consult ex-allies Janata Dal-United (JDU) and Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Gandhi said, “We will hold a meeting with I.N.D.I.A bloc members on Wednesday. We will make a decision then.”

Gandhi attacked the Mod government by saying that the people have shown with their votes that they do not want a corrupted government. “The people directly correlate Modiji to Adani. This is a direct relationship of corruption. The voters have told Modi that they don't want him,” he said.

Congratulating the I.N.D.I.A bloc members and his own party cadres, Gandhi said they have won the elections together.

On being asked which seat he would choose, as he won from both Raebareli and Wayanad he said, “"I am being questioned whether I will remain an MP for Wayanad or Raebareli seat. If it was in my control, I would have liked to remain an MP from both places.”

In Kerala's Wayanad Lok Sabha seat, Rahul Gandhi defeated Communist Party of India’s Annie Raja by a margin of over 3.5 lakh votes. Gandhi got 6,47,445 votes, which was lower than the 7,06,367 votes he got in 2019 from the same constituency.

In 2019 too, the Congress leader won from Wayanad constituency, after defeat in Amethi. In Uttar Pradesh's Raebareli Lok Sabha seat, Rahul Gandhi defeated BJP's Dinesh Pratap Singh by a margin of 3,90,030 votes.

In the previous election, Sonia Gandhi had won the seat. From 2004 to 2019, Rahul Gandhi represented the Amethi seat, before he lost to Smriti Irani.

Earlier in the day, thanking voters for supporting the Congress party and the I.N.D.I.A bloc, Rahul Gandhi said, “UP ki janta ne kamaal karke dikha diya..." adding “The Congress has given a new vision to the country.” he added. At the end he also thanked Priyanka Gandhi who stood smiling.

Meanwhile, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said that "I.N.D.I.A will finish the unfinished business of 2014”.

“On February 14 2014, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh pledged special category status to the new state of Andhra Pradesh for 5 years. The BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu countered by saying BJP if elected to power will extend it for 10 years. Two months later Narendra Modi, in the holy city of Tirupati, repeated the promise.

“For the past 10 years the outgoing Modi Sarkar did nothing. It, in fact, abolished the very policy of special category status to financially distressed states.

“The Indian National Congress has in its 2024 election manifesto pledged to declare special category status to Andhra Pradesh as promised by Dr. Manmohan Singh. This is our guarantee,” the senior leader added.

Meanwhile Kharge said that BJP tried to “illegally capture constitutional institutions. They used the institutions against the Opposition. We fought elections on unemployment, inflation and attack on institutions. People aligned with our issues. The PM spread lies on the Congress manifesto.”

Kharge added that this mandate is against Modi and his government. “The people did not give a clear majority to one single party. The BJP sought votes for a single person. The mandate is against Modiji,” he said.

While BJP has secured a majority with its allies. The opposition I.N.D.I.A alliance, led by the Indian National Congress party, has won 222 seats.These numbers contrast sharply with 2019 results when the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) won 353 seats, 303 of which were bagged by the BJP alone.

In Maharashtra, the BJP and its allies suffered big losses. The opposition I.N.D.I.A alliance – which includes the Congress, Shiv Sena and the SP – won 29 of the state’s 48 seats, and was leading, by a slender margin, in another seat. The Congress alone was leading in 13 seats while the BJP was ahead in nine.

All Photographs NIKITA JAIN