Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said that the Gujarat election results raise questions on the credibility of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
He said the Gujarat verdict was a ‘moral victory’ for Congress and stated that it sends a message to PM Modi and the party that "Your anger will not work for you, you can be defeated by love."
The Congress president also said, "There is a serious issue with Modi ji's credibility... this election has put a big question mark on PM Modi's credibility. We didn't win, but we fared well. The result was good for us."
The BJP on Monday retained Gujarat, however, by a much lower margin of win compared to the last time, while the Congress posted its best result since 1985 in the state.
Rahul Gandhi had on Monday accepted defeat and he had also congratulated the BJP on winning both Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.
The BJP fought off a strong challenge from Rahul Gandhi-led Congress to win the Gujarat assembly polls for the sixth straight time, and also wrested power from the Congress in Himachal Pradesh with a close to two-thirds majority.
The twin victories tightened BJP's grip over the country's politics that saw Congress lose one more state with general elections only 18 months away.
Still, the euphoria in the BJP camp was tempered by the lower-than-expected margin of victory in Gujarat -- it took 99 seats in the 182-member assembly, down from 115 it won in 2012, and far lower than the 150-plus seats it had hoped for.
The Congress won 77, up by 16 seats at the end of counting of votes in the Gujarat polls tonight that was marked by acrimonious exchanges and rhetoric during the high octane campaign.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the party's victory in Gujarat--where it has been continuously in power since 1998 --as "unprecedented", noting that retaining office was once considered a huge achievement in the country.
Modi also said the win in Gujarat this time was not 'samanya' (normal) but 'asamanya' (special).
He accused the Congress of promoting casteism in the elections, and said there were "many forces at work" besides the opposition party to bring the BJP down.
"In their hunger for power, some people tried to sow the seeds of casteism in the last few months for the elections. The people rejected it," he said.
Gujarat is a prestigious trophy for the BJP given that both Modi and BJP President Amit Shah hail from the state. The two leaders personally led a high-pitched campaign to counter Gandhi, who grew in influence with well chosen homilies, one-liners and clever barbs to target the BJP on issues such as GST, corruption and development.
The elections, especially the Gujarat polls, became a virtual trailer for the next Lok Sabha elections, which should be held before May 2019.
(With inputs from PTI)