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Death at dawn, rebirth by dusk

New Delhi, Dec. 4: BJP workers at the party’s central Ashoka Road office did not wake up to good news this morning. A Central Reserve Police Force constable guarding it had shot himself dead.

But the sombre mood changed to cheer as election results started pouring in from Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. Only in Delhi had Congress chief minister Sheila Dikshit deprived the BJP of victory although it had managed to marginally better its show.

As celebrations started later in the day, the Ashoka Road office packed up with loyalists, legislators and ministers.

Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani and civil aviation minister Rajeev Pratap Rudy were conspicuous by their presence as was party president Venkaiah Naidu.

Crackers were burst, gulal smeared and drums loudly beaten as the heady BJP flock screamed slogans in praise of the Prime Minister. “Atal Bihari Vajpayee zindabad,” they chanted as they vied with each other to shout the loudest.

Ek Bihari sab par bhaari, Atal Bihari, Atal Bihari (One Bihari outweighs every one, Atal Bihari, Atal Bihari),” one group chanted.

“Sonia Gandhi desh chodo, Italy ja kar dhaba kholo (Sonia Gandhi leave India, go to Italy and set up a dhaba),” carried on another.

The festivities were, however, concentrated at Ashoka Road. The Delhi BJP office near Parliament wore a deserted look as most of the vanquished leaders stayed away, possibly preferring to lick their wounds and introspect on what went wrong in the privacy of their respective homes.

The Congress celebrations at the Delhi victory were muted, overshadowed by the drubbing it got in the three other states. There was little fanfare at the Akbar Road office for most the day. Only a solitary balloon tied to a jeep fluttered in the breeze, advertising the party’s success with the tube rail.

The only high point at adjoining 10 Janpath was when Dikshit triumphantly arrived with Cabinet colleagues Ashok Walia and Raj Kumar Chauhan in the evening to look up party president Sonia Gandhi.

Some crackers were burst and the stray slogan raised to drumbeats. “Sonia ke haath, garibo ke saath (Sonia’s hand is with poor),” some die-hard loyalists sang.

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