New Delhi : Finding a silver lining in the dark election clouds, the Congress Friday expressed satisfaction over the Samajwadi Party's defeat in Uttar Pradesh and patted Rahul Gandhi for an "inspiring" campaign – despite not improving its performance since the last polls.
"We congratulate Mayawati for spreading the 'mayajal' (means illusion but actually a play on her name) and defeating the Samajwadi Party," Congress spokesperson and Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal said as it became clear that the Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) chief seemed set to become the next chief minister of the state.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also congratulated Mayawati for her outstanding victory as the 50 million votes cast in the staggered assembly elections were counted Friday.
Although disappointed over the party's performance – that does not seem to have improved from its last tally of 25 – Congress leaders appreciated Gandhi scion Rahul Gandhi's contribution during the campaign.
"Rahul's charisma did a lot of good for the party in Uttar Pradesh," senior party leader Mohsina Kidwai told reporters outside parliament.
Agreed B.K. Hariprasad, party general secretary and Rajya Sabha MP. "Rahul's presence made a very big difference. We managed to galvanise, inspire and activate our party workers in each and every constituency. That will give us dividends in the long run."
Sibal, convenor of the Congress campaign in Uttar Pradesh, said his party too had contributed to the BSP victory.
"I think Mayawati should thank us because all the benefits of our campaign against (Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister) Mulayam Singh have gone to Mayawati," he said.
Although the Congress did not make any major gains, Sibal said the party's main aim was to defeat the Samajwadi Party.
"First of all we wanted to throw out Mulayam Singh's government. Secondly, we wanted to expose the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). We have succeeded in both," Sibal said.
"We should celebrate the secular parties' victory," Hariprasad said.