The Congress on Thursday said the party being in alliance with other parties does not mean it has taken voluntary retirement, as it hit back at regional outfits for their criticism of Rahul Gandhi over his remarks that they do not have an ideology and cannot fight the Bharatiya Janata Party at the national level.
In his concluding remarks at the 'Chintan Shivir' in Udaipur, Gandhi had said that it is only the Congress that can fight the BJP at the national level and regional outfits cannot fight this battle of ideology.
"Being in alliances does not mean taking VRS (voluntary retirement)," a senior Congress leader said on Thursday.
He said Gandhi's comments were misunderstood and misinterpreted by leaders of some regional parties.
He said Gandhi has only said that it is only the Congress which is a national party that can take on the BJP at the national level and no other opposition party has national presence like it has.
He said when alliances are forged, it is a two-way process and the Congress will enter into tie-ups while keeping its strength in mind.
He said the party is already in alliance with some regional outfits in states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu and is in government jointly with other parties in Jharkhand and Maharashtra and the only states where it has to formulate its views are West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh.
In the rest of the states, it is contesting the BJP alone, he said.
The Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Jadal Dal-Secular and the Shiv Sena have criticised Gandhi for his remarks made at the Chintan Shivir in Udaipur.
Addressing Congress leaders on May 15, Gandhi had said, "BJP will talk about Congress, will talk about Congress leaders, will talk about Congress workers, but will not talk about regional parties, because they know, that regional parties have their place, but they cannot defeat BJP. Because they don't have an ideology."
"This fight of ideology is not easy. Regional parties cannot fight this battle, as this is a fight of ideology," Gandhi also said, asserting that it is only the Congress that can fight this battle of ideologies.
The Rashtriya Janata Dal asked Gandhi to look at recent electoral history of regional parties putting up a strong fight against the BJP as it took a swipe at him for his critical comments aimed at them, saying the Congress leader's claims were 'bizarre' and not in sync with his own party's stand.
RJD spokesperson Manoj Kumar Jha said regional parties are strong in a majority of Lok Sabha seats in the fight against the BJP, and the Congress should settle to be 'co-travellers' and let them be in the 'driving seat' in over 320 of the 543 parliamentary constituencies.
This is a point RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav has also made, he noted.
The Congress is facing a phobia of regional parties, JD-S leader H D Kumaraswamy said on Monday while taking a swipe at Gandhi.
In an apparent sarcastic note, he asked the former Congress president to elaborate to regional parties about ideological commitment, while saying that the national party has no presence in most parts of the country.
He said the Congress toppled the I K Gujral-led United Front government, demanding that the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam be kept out of the Cabinet by citing the links of the Dravidian party with the Liberation Tigers in Tamil Elam (LTTE) in the backdrop of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's assassination.
But, the same Congress in the later years shared a cordial, political relationship with that party.
'Is sharing power with the same DMK for 10 years in UPA-1 and -2 governments, led by Manmohan Singh, an ideological commitment?' Kumaraswamy asked in a tweet.