Congress President Rahul Gandhi, who came calling here on Saturday days after his party narrowly missed victory in the Gujarat Assembly elections, exhorted the party rank and file that with a little more effort, the BJP could be defeated in the state, and the Congress would get 135 seats in the next elections.
Gandhi, who flew down here after offering prayers at the Somnath Temple, said he could sense a victory even in the party’s defeat and this election had demonstrated it.
“We lost in the elections, but we have won. This is the reality. We won because they fought with anger, with money, police, chief ministers from various states, industrialists. We had only truth.
“We stood against this and showed it to the entire country that Congress can fight and win,” he said.
“My main challenge was that if Gujarat Congress believes that it is going to win, then it would win. You believed in it 70 per cent and can see the results. Now Gujarat Congress has confidence. Now you know that you can win. Now just wait for the results of (2019) Lok Sabha and (2022) Assembly elections. It will be a great result. All those sitting here will be in government,” he said.
“The Gujarat Congressmen have shown that if they unite and fight on their ideology, they do not lose.”
Speaking in Hindi, the Congress chief said with confidence, “We have dismantled all the development talk of (Prime Minister Narendra) Modiji. Now he cannot talk about it.”
He congratulated the BJP for its victory and accepted the Opposition’s role, while claiming that the new BJP government would work for a handful of and “snatch away lands” of farmers.
“What we talked about Gujarat government in the elections is the truth and the fight has not ended. Farmers, women and youth have voted for us. You have to show that Congress legislators fight for people, their issues and do not take a step back,” he said.
Gandhi said that Congress in the state had been able to take away the “development” plank of Prime Minister and BJP. “They stand exposed on this. In the end he (PM) talked about himself all the time. The entire country knows it and they cannot use it (development plank) anywhere,” he added.
The Congress finished with 80 seats, including three independents, in the House of 182 where the BJP was reduced to 99 seats from its 2012 tally of 115 and was hoping for an unprecedented victory by getting more than 150 seats. The Congress was meandering in the 50s through the last five elections and had lost all 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat in 2014.
Gandhi asserted: “Three four months ago, the question here was whether Congress could fight the elections at all. Nobody gave us a chance of winning. The BJP said Congress would win 20-25 seats and they would win 150-plus.”
The Congress president claimed that the main reason for his party’s loss was the campaign of “defamation” and “lies” by Modi and his BJP against the Congress and its leaders.
Gandhi was here for a review meeting on party’s performance in elections with elected legislators, losing candidates and party workers. “You fought well. The tickets too were distributed fairly, except few mistakes that happen,” he said.