Returning to his fiery-self in attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi post the Lok Sabha polls debacle, Rahul Gandhi on Friday accused him and the Bharatiya Janata Party of spreading "hatred and intolerance" and said the Congress will continue to fight them.
Holding a massive roadshow in Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency amid heavy rains to thank voters for electing him, the Congress chief said his party will emerge as a strong opposition and defend the poor.
"Modi might have so much money. He might have media by his side.... He might have rich friends with him but the Congress party will continue to fight against the intolerance created by the BJP," said Gandhi, who travelled in a special open vehicle along with state leaders.
"The hatred and intolerance created by the BJP and Modi will be dealt by the Congress party with love and affection," Gandhi said in his first public function after the drubbing in Lok Saha polls where it bagged 52 seats.
Gandhi, who also contested from his pocket borough of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh and lost to Union minister Smriti Irani, had offered to resign but it was rejected by the Congress Working Committee.
Thousands, including women and children, braved the downpour to catch a glimpse of the leader who arrived on a three-day tour constituency after he was voted to the Lok Sabha with a margin of about 4.31 lakh votes.
The people patiently waited for hours for Gandhi on either side of the water-logged roads and on the terrace and balconies of nearby buildings to welcome their new MP.
As the vehicle carrying the Congress President inched its way through the crowded road, frenzied party workers danced waving tri-colour flags and posters with the pictures of their party chief, chanting "we are with you". Beating drums, they also greeted him shouting "Rahul, Rahul."
The green flags of the Indian Union Muslim League, a coalition partner of the opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front, could also be seen fluttering in the crowd.
A heavy security blanket by the Special Protection Group, anti-Naxal squad and the Kerala police was in place for the VVIP visit.
The security personnel were on their toes as Kalikavu, where the roadshow moved in the bylanes, is considered to be a naxal-infested area.
Gandhi, accompanied by state Congress leaders Mullappally Ramachandran, opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala, MLA A P Anil Kumar, among others, was seen waving at the crowd from the vehicle.
"I will fight for the people of Wayanad. I will take up the issues of Wayanad inside and outside Parliament. I will work for the constituency, work with you, listen to you," Gandhi told the crowd.
He said even though he is a Congress man, he will work beyond politics, and for people from all walks of life.
Gandhi said since he is an MP of Kerala, he will raise issues not only of Wayanad but also of the people of the entire state in and outside Parliament.
The Congress and its allies won 19 out of 20 seats in Kerala, the only state besides Punjab and Tamil Nadu where it has done well in this Lok Sabha election.
The Congress president arrived at Kozhikode airport in the afternoon and was scheduled to participate in at least 15 public receptions across the constituency, spread over in the districts of Wayanad, Malappuram and Kozhikode, in the next two days.
Scores of party workers and leaders were at the airport to receive Gandhi.
The Congress chief had a meeting with senior UDF leaders, including Ramesh Chennithala and P K Kunhalikutty.
A senior Congress leader from the constituency said that Gandhi's visit will be a morale booster for the party workers to fight the Assembly bypolls.
"He will also take part in road shows at Nilambur and Eranad," senior Congress leader and Wandoor MLA A P Anil Kumar said.
Gandhi will be accorded receptions at Kalpetta, Kambalkadu, Panamaram, Mananthavadi, Pulpally and Sultan Batheri and will also attend a roadshow in Kozhikode Assembly constituency on June 9, before leaving for Delhi.
Earlier in the day, Gandhi tweeted, "I will be in Wayanad, Kerala, starting this afternoon and till Sunday to meet citizens and Congress party workers. It's a packed schedule with over 15 public receptions planned over the next three days.