Upbeat after the Congress’s performance, party president Rahul Gandhi said the Assembly election had delivered a “clear message” to the BJP that people were not happy with it and that it was time for change.
Criticising Modi for “failing to deliver” on the promises made in 2014, Gandhi said, “It is pretty clear that there is a feeling among people in our country that what was committed… he has not been able to deliver.” That, he said, “is something we felt throughout the campaign very strongly, people were coming up to us and saying that”.
He also said that he had learned a lot from the Congress’s defeat in the 2014 general elections and from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who, he said, had taught him “what not to do”.
“Five years ago, he was handed a massive opportunity. The sad thing is that he refused to listen to the heartbeat of the country. He refused what the youngsters are saying to him. He refused what the farmers are saying. Certain amount of arrogance came in. I think that is fatal for a politician. That is something I learnt from how he has acted. For me the best teachers are the people of this country.”
Gandhi said that he had told his mother Sonia Gandhi recently that the “absolute best thing for me was the 2014 election” and that he learnt two important lessons from the Congress loss in that election – that the “most important thing is humility” and “what people of this country feel”. As a politician, he said, “you have to listen to what they feel, you have to connect with what they feel and you have to try and work with that sentiment”.
Modi, he said, had a “huge opportunity five years ago, he was handed a massive opportunity to transform this country and the sad thing – and I feel bad for him even though I am in Opposition – is that he refused… certain amount of arrogance came in”.
Talking about the Congress’s leads in three out of the five Assembly elections, Gandhi credited party workers. “I think this is a victory of the Congress workers who have in difficult circumstances stood up and fought for our ideology. So I am very, very proud of them,” he said.
In the states that the party has won, the Congress, he said, has a “lot of work to do” for the youth, farmers, shopkeepers and small business owners. “All of them have supported us and we have a commitment towards them,” the Congress president said.
He added that the Congress would provide the states “with a vision, we are going to provide the government they can be proud of”.
For the general elections, Gandhi mentioned employment, farmers and agriculture, “corruption and mismanagement of the economy” as some of the main issues.
He emphasised that the Congress would go along with the Opposition in the elections – “that is certain”. Congress, he said, is “starting a conversation internally and we are going to involve large parts of our country in developing a vision for India that we would then implement”.