Kamal Nath brushed aside Congress' dismal show in the polls and questioned BJP over its "tall claims" of victory.
Aam Aadmi Party had scored a resounding victory to retain power for a third term, he said. As AAP cantered away winning 62 of 70 seats leaving the BJP at eight and decimating Congress that had ruled Delhi for three consecutive terms, Kamal Nath said, "We are aware of this. But what happened to the BJP that was making tall claims? Being at the Centre, (Prime Minister Narendra) Modiji is close to Delhi's electorate which would have elected the BJP, if it was satisfied with his work."
"BJP leaders no longer talk about unemployment and farmers, but speak on issues like nationalism, Pakistan and Citizenship Amendment Act. The 'real face' of the BJP has now been exposed."
"I have a basic question about CAA. Is there any war going on, or refugees coming to India? Then what was the need to get CAA passed by conducting Parliament proceedings till midnight? What was their aim? They only wanted to give a divisive message," Kamal Nath said.
Chouhan, who is now BJP's national Vice President, said: "BJP's vote share is continuously increasing. There was a keen competition on many seats. BJP has won more seats as compared to 2015. This is a good pointer to future. But Congress has been swept away. They have lost deposit on all but three seats."
The Congress' stakes were higher in avoiding a split in anti-BJP vote than wresting power. The Congress is aware of its limitations in Bihar and West Bengal where election circus moves now. The message going to the other Congress-ruled may still be positive, says party office-bearers in Bhopal. Civic elections are due in Madhya Pradesh in a couple of months and the party hopes discomfiture of BJP will have a significant bearing.
Bhopal's complement to Delhi's Shaheen Bagh is Iqbal Maidan that sports a steel sculpture of Shaheen made by famous artist J. Swaminathan. Iqbal Maidan has been hosting an anti CAA sit-in since December 10 and has received enthusiastic response. Unlike Shaheen Bagh which was on the sly expected to help BJP for polarising the Hindu votes, the Iqbal Maidan has open support from the Congress government. Despite being in the heart of the old city, the Iqbal Maidan protest hasn't inconvenienced traffic like Shaheen Bagh.
Clearly, the state government by issuing statements refusing to implement the CAA has just signalled "non-cooperation" with the Modi government until the Supreme Court settles the debate. The government is aware it does not legally have that option. But politically, it can resort to some gamesmanship.
The Congress leadership has therefore decided to pass resolutions from all state assemblies where it is part of the government. Rajasthan's case like Gujarat is different. There District Collectors enjoy powers to grant citizenship to Hindu refugees from Pakistan as a result of 1965 and 1971 wars.
The special power was given to them by the outgoing BJP-led government in 2004 for one year. But the Congress-led UPA government extended it to District Collectors twice. The beneficiaries were only Hindu refugees or illegal immigrants.
Refugees from Pakistan found a mention in 2018 Rajasthan manifesto of the Congress, where it promised to consider their citizenship issue. Congress did not talk about any religious group for citizenship though.
Congress cast its weight behind protesters in every state with Delhi's Shaheen Bagh being the epicentre. Congress leaders visited Shaheen Bagh to address anti-CAA protesters. The BJP has been accusing the Congress of inciting people to violence.
Senior party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad hit back at PM Modi saying, "Had the Congress been capable of inciting such violence, you wouldn't have been in power."
The Congress is sensing its chance of reclaiming minority vote through the anti-CAA protests and trying to win over sections of entire middle-class disillusioned with Modi government over unemployment and economic slowdown.