Buoyed by the Congress' resurgence, party president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said the assembly poll outcome is a "clear message" to the Modi government that people are not happy with it and time has come for a change, while asserting his party will also win in 2019. Prime Minister Narendra Modi got a massive mandate but refused to listen to the "heartbeat of the country", Gandhi noted, and said there are serious questions being asked about the future of the country's youngsters as there was a sense of discontentment among them and the inability to see a future for them.
He also said in this election Modi had taught him a lesson of "what not to do" and added that the party's drubbing in the 2014 Lok Sabha election also taught him two things -- humility and to listen to what the people think and feel.
On whether the Congress would follow the BJP and pursue the "BJP-mukt Bharat" slogan after its victories, the Congress chief said his party would fight the BJP ideology but would not get rid of anyone from the country. On selection of chief ministers in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, he said there would not be any issue and it would be done smoothly.
Gandhi, while addressing a press conference, credited the Congress workers for the party's good performance in states of Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, and termed them as "babbar sher" (lions).
"It's now time for change. We are going to provide these three states with a vision for overall development," he said.
"Frankly, Mr Narendra Modi taught me the lesson -- what not to do," Gandhi remarked, adding that as a politician one has to listen to what the people feel and one has to connect with what they feel and "you have to work with that sentiment".
"Five years ago, he was handed a massive opportunity. The sad thing is that he refused to listen to the heartbeat of the country. He refused what the youngsters are saying to him. He refused what the farmers are saying. Certain amount of arrogance came in. I think that is fatal for a politician. That is something I learnt from how he has acted. For me the best teachers are the people of this country."
Gandhi said the Congress would work jointly with like-minded opposition parties having similar ideologies and work out alliances and defeat the BJP in the country in 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
"I think with a resurgent Congress party in the states and in other states where the BJP is ruling and a combined opposition, it is going to become very difficult for the prime minister and the BJP to win the 2019 election; that is pretty clear.
"And this is a clear message to the prime minister and to the BJP that the country is not happy with what they are doing. The country is not happy with demonetisation, the country is not happy with GST, the country is not happy with the lack of jobs, so that is there. I think it is a good thing for the Congress. I am quite happy with what we have achieved," he said.
Gandhi said the prime minister is "paralysed and is unable to perform under opposition's pressure". He also termed demonetisation as a disaster and declared it along with the Rafale deal as scams under Modi.
He said the prime minister was elected on the three issues of tackling unemployment, corruption and farmers' issues. "The people thought the prime minister will fight corruption.. Now people think Modi is himself corrupt. This is also the reason of our victory in Chhattisgarh," he said.
"The PM was elected to do a job. He should get to work," he said.
He noted that his journey as a leader of the party was a "nice journey" from 2014. "There was a little bit of a beating but it is a good thing, not a bad thing," he quipped.
Thanking the people of the country for their support in the party's good performance, Gandhi said the Congress would have liked to do better in Telangana. He also thanked the chief ministers of the three states, which the Congress wrested from the BJP, for their contribution to the development of these states.
Hitting out at the BJP for its often-stated remark of Congress-mukt (Congress-free) Bharat, Gandhi said,"The BJP has a certain ideology and we will fight against it. We have won these elections, we will also win in 2019. However, we do not want to get rid of anyone."
He said this was a clear message to Modi that people were not happy with his decisions, including demonetisation, and those pertaining to farmers and youth and added the BJP had failed to provide a vision for the country going forward.
Gandhi asserted that the process of loan waiver for farmers would start as soon as Congress governments were formed in states, but said it was a measure, not a solution to farmers' distress and the party would work together with farmers to find a permanent solution to the problem.
Asked whether the issue of malfunctioning of EVMs raised by the party was over, Gandhi said the Congrass had won the elections but questions remained on it not only in India but across the world.
He said the matter that electronic chips in the EVM could be manipulated to disturb an entire election was a question that remained unanswered in India, the US and other countries.
Earlier on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the Congress for winning the Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh assembly elections and said the BJP accepts the people’s mandate with ""humility. adding that "victory and defeat are an integral part of life." The Congress swept Rajasthan and Chhhattisgarh, and is leading in Madhya Pradesh. It, however, lost Mizoram.
"We accept the people’s mandate with humility. I thank the people of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan for giving us the opportunity to serve these states. The BJP Governments in these states worked tirelessly for the welfare of the people," Modi tweeted.
He added: "The Congratulations to the Congress for their victories. Congratulations to KCR Garu for the thumping win in Telangana and to the Mizo National Front (MNF) for their impressive victory in Mizoram.
"The family of BJP Karyakartas worked day and night for the state elections. I salute them for their hardwork. Victory and defeat are an integral part of life. Today’s results will further our resolve to serve people and work even harder for the development of India."
(With PTI inputs)