The Congress party on Monday pledged "a renewed commitment to protect and preserve the secular fabric of the Indian polity".
Congress spokesman S Jaipal Reddy described the party's debacle in the Gujarat election as "a temporary setback inflicted through a negative and divisive campaign that lasted for nine months".
"Riots that broke out in Gujarat after [the] Godhra [incident] were deliberately engineered by the activists of the Sangh Parivar in collusion with a section of the state apparatus," he said. He accused the parivar of fanning the communal fire.
"If one goes in for in-depth analysis of the election results one will find that the reverses of Congress party were in an exact proportion to the riots that occurred in various regions," he said. "Where the riots were maximum our setback was maximum. For instance riots were maximum in central Gujarat and our setback was maximum there."
On the party's defeat in the three by-elections in Rajasthan, Reddy said that while the Congress lost one sitting seat to the BJP, the remaining two were held by the BJP and the Bahujan Samaj Party respectively, who retained them.
He, however, agreed that that the Congress needed to analyse as to how it lost the bypolls.
Asked if the Congress would now reconsider the need for a united opposition front against the BJP-led NDA, the Congress spokesman said, "We were never opposed to coalition politics. Even at the Panchmari session and at Bangalore we have made this issue clear."
He explained that the Congress did not go for a tie-up with the Nationalist Congress Party of Sharad Pawar and Samajwadi Party of Mulayam Singh Yadav, as they did not have "substantial support base". He also rejected the contention that the party's electoral prospects were damaged by the presence of a large number of NCP and SP candidates.
On the issue of "soft hindutva" being adopted by the party, Reddy said, "Those who accuse the Congress of adopting the 'fatwa campaign' cannot concurrently accuse it of adhering to 'soft hindutva' politics."