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Modi's victory stuns Congress
December 23, 2007 10:40 IST
Last Updated: December 23, 2007 13:29 IST
Narendra Modi's [Images] impressive show in the Gujarat assembly elections on Sunday stunned the Congress amidst a debate on whether its president Sonia Gandhi's [Images] 'liars and merchants of death' remarks were a 'tactical mistake' exploited by the Chief Minister.
There was a mixed response in the party to the famous remarks of Gandhi in the midst of campaign in Navsari regarding whether they went against it.
Union Minister Shankarsinh Vaghela, a former Bharatiya Janata Party leader and one of the key campaigners of the Congress, told PTI the BJP's 'excessive reaction' to the remarks did benefit the saffron outfit as Modi raked up the Sohrabuddin encounter issue like he did the 'Mian Musharraf' plank in 2002.
Coverage: Battle for Gujarat
Vaghela, as also party's chief whip in the Lok Sabha Madhusudan Mistry, conceded that Modi succeeded in playing the communal card by making an issue out of a non-issue and also talked about Gujarati pride, while the Congress made efforts to stick to the development plank.
However, Union minister Kapil Sibal does not appear to be in agreement with this view. "The truth has to be told. We have to fight it upfront. Democracy is not about winning or losing a state election. Modi is something that Congress abhors," he said.
"We have set the agenda and we want that kind of polity which Narendra Modi does not represent. We will continue to fight," Sibal said. Accusing the Modi regime of instilling fear in the minds of the people of the state, he said, "Fascists do win and repeat their victory".
Party spokesman Abhsishek Singhvi also defended Gandhi's remarks saying Modi's victory does not remove the blot or invalidate all that had happened during the 2002 riots under his chief ministership. Vaghela, a former Chief Minister, said, "It is a fact that our argument did not work and theirs worked".
All-India Congress Committee general secretary in charge of Gujarat B K Hariprasad said the asssembly polls will have no bearing on the General elections.
Hariprasad said the Congress' performance in Saurashtra was a disappointment as it had expected to make a big dent in the BJP's tally in the region.
"The results from the region are not up to our expectation. We expected to make a significant dent in the region," he said.
To a question on why the large turnouts in the rallies by leaders like Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi [Images] were not translated into votes, Hariprasad said, "It was our responsibility to translate the large public response in the rallies into votes, but we failed".