Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said the Gujarat election results were a zabardast jhatka (a massive jolt) to the Bharatiya Janata Party, and raised questions about Prime Minister Narendra Modi's credibility after he led his party to a narrow victory in the state.
He claimed the Gujarat results indicated that the country was not listening to Modi any more.
Gandhi also hit out at Modi's Gujarat model of development, calling it "good propaganda and able marketing", but which is "hollow from within".
"I came to know there (in Gujarat) that people actually do not accept Modiji's model," the Congress president said.
"It was thought that the Congress will not be able to fight the BJP in Gujarat...You saw the results and it has dealt a 'zabardast jhatka' (a massive jolt) to the BJP in Gujarat," he told reporters.
The BJP won 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. It is also for the first time its tally slipped below the 100 mark since the BJP formed its maiden government on its own in 1995.
The Congress won 77 seats, up by 16 seats.
Gandhi called it a "very good result" and a moral victory for the Congress. "We lost, but we could have won...but fell short by a small margin," he said.
"A big question has been raised on Modiji's credibility. Frankly, Modiji has a credibility problem and he will find it very difficult... Because what he is saying, his forces and his organisation are repeating that.
"But the country is not listening to that. This, the Gujarat election has shown. In the coming times, you will see this clearly," he said.
Talking of credibility, he said while Modi spoke "non-stop" about corruption, he never uttered a word about Jay Shah (BJP chief Amit Shah's son) or Rafale fighter jet deal, which the Congress claims was against the country's interest and encouraged crony capitalism.
"The country wants to know that you talked non-stop of corruption. Jay Shah, son of Amit Shah, turned Rs 50,000 into 80 crore in three months, there has been a scam in Rafale deal, why don't you talk of this. This is the credibility issue," he said.
Gandhi said Gujarat sent out a message to the BJP and Modi that the "anger" within them would not work.
The Congress chief, who vigorously campaigned in Gujarat, said in three months the state and its people taught him one thing that one can defeat opponents only with love and brotherhood, and not anger, money or force.
Mahatma Gandhi told this to the country and this feeling is embedded deeply in Gujarat.
"Gujarat has given a message to Modi ji and the BJP that the anger within you will not help you and love will defeat it," he said.
Gandhi also thanked the people of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh for the verdict and congratulated all those who won.
Responding to a question about Modi's assertion that the BJP's win was an endorsement of his development agenda and economic reforms like the GST, the Congress president said, "It is strange as in his poll speeches he did not talk about development, nor about GST and note ban."
Image: Congress president Rahul Gandhi called the Gujarat election results "very good", and a moral victory. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo