Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday held “lack of confidence’’ among state Congress leaders as the “main reason for the party’s defeat in Gujarat Assembly elections’’. “The main challenge before the Congress is to generate confidence among the party leaders that they can win elections…. If Gujarat Congress leaders develop confidence that the party can win the elections, then we will win elections,” Rahul told party workers at a review meeting on Congress’s election performance on Saturday.
“You (Gujarat Congress leaders) were only 70 per cent confident of winning the polls, and you have seen the results, too,” he said. “There is a difference of only 10 seats (between the BJP and the Congress), but the result has now developed confidence in Gujarat Congress.”
The meeting was attended by top Congress leaders. These include Rajya Sabha member Ahmed Patel, AICC general secretary and former Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot, all 77 newly elected Gujarat MLAs, candidates who lost the elections, all state unit office-bearers and party’s district presidents. Rahul claimed that the party will win at least 135 seats in the next Gujarat state elections.
While he rejected complaints from some Congress workers that tickets were not distributed done properly, Rahul admitted that there could be some mistakes here and there. “But overall, there was no major fault in distribution of tickets,” he said. He did not speak on allegations of EVM tampering, an raised by several Congress candidates.
Rahul also warned party leaders against infighting, saying 5 to 10 per cent leaders did not help the party in the elections. “I want to send a clear message: no matter whoever it is and how big one is, if you do not stand up with the party, don’t support the party in elections, you have no future in the Congress,” he said. He also said that those who worked wholeheartedly for the party will be promoted.
With several senior leaders losing, Rahul said the results have “thrown up a new leadership’’, which, he hoped, will “run the government” after the next Assembly polls. He congratulated Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on the BJP’s victory and also exhorted Congress MLAs and leaders to play the role of a strong opposition. “I am sure you will not withdraw even by an inch. You will continue the fight,” he said.
He said, “We have won because they (BJP) fought with anger, they fought with rage. They had all the resources with them — police, chief ministers of various states, big industrialists — but we (Congress) had truth with us. And we stood up firmly and with confidence against them.” Criticising the BJP, he said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s much talked-about Gujarat development model was debunked by the electorate.