Senior Congress leader M Veerappa Moily on Tuesday indicated that the controversial statements of Mani Shankar Aiyar and Kapil Sibal might have undone the gains made by party president Rahul Gandhi during campaigning in the Gujarat elections.
He claimed that Gandhi has emerged as an "alternative to (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi" for the 2019 general elections.
The former Union minister also accused Modi of trying to "emotionally blackmail" the Gujarat electorate and said political parties should not win elections on the basis of "jumlas".
"...our people like Mani Shankar Aiyar should not have raised those issues against him (PM)," Moily told PTI.
He was referring to Aiyar's "neech" remark.
The BJP on Monday returned to power in Gujarat for the sixth straight time, fighting off a strong challenge from the Congress.
Asked if Aiyar's comments had an adverse electoral impact for the Congress, Moily said, "May be. Narendra Modi utilised that statement to hit at the Congress and also our leader. We should be very careful."
He also termed as "unnecessary" Sibal's statement asking the Supreme Court to defer hearing in the Ram Janmabhoomi case till after the 2019 general elections.
"He (Sibal) should not have made such statements. He was not authorised to make such statements on behalf of the party," Moily said.
"It was not the party view, even then Narendra Modi utilised," the former chief minister of Karnataka said.
"Some of our leaders also should restrain themselves, particularly on the eve of the elections and during the elections. One should be very careful. Wisdom should prevail upon them, that means to say that our leaders should also have political sense to deal with the subject," he said.
"Sometimes whatever is done by Rahul Gandhi...our leadership, is undone by such statements," added Moily, who had held portfolios such as law and justice, corporate affairs and petroleum and natural gas during the UPA government.
He alleged that Modi raised issues to emotionally blackmail the electorate in Gujarat.
"...like 'supari' was given to kill him (Modi) when he (Aiyar) visited Pakistan. He (Modi) makes that statement after a lapse of one year. Credibility is the question. But certain percentage of votes must have been swayed because of this," Moily said.
"...then again, Pakistan is working against him (Modi) in Gujarat election. Such issues...the Election Commission should take serious note when there is absolutely no proof. It's absolutely again an election 'jumla', and an election jumla should not win an election for any political party; it's negation of democratic principles," Moily said.
"So, it was not on merit or 'vikas', or Gujarat model (that BJP won), but only because certain distortions which have taken place and emotional blackmail and utilising the false statement before the Gujarat electorate," he alleged.
Moily also said the Congress' performance in Gujarat, particularly under Gandhi's leadership was "par excellence".
"All those light talks, particularly on Rahul Gandhi, have stopped now. He is marching forward," Moily said and claimed that his party lost in 16 Assembly seats in the western state by barely around 200 votes.
"He (Rahul Gandhi) could also consolidate all social forces along with the Congress. It's a big success," Moily said.
"Rahul Gandhi has emerged as an alternative to Narendra Modi for the 2019 (general) elections," he added.