Congress President Rahul Gandhi said the election outcome was a “massive jolt” to the BJP although it retained power in the state it has ruled for 22 long years.
The BJP reacted sharply, saying the Congress was “on the verge of extinction”.
Speaking outside Parliament, the Congress leader questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s credibility over his silence on corruption charges including BJP President Amit Shah’s son Jay Shah’s meteoric business rise.
He dismissed Modi’s statement that the Gujarat verdict was in approval of the BJP’s development agenda and the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
The 47-year-old Congress President said Modi did not speak about development, GST and note ban in any of his election speeches.
“It has raised questions about Modiji’s credibility. Frankly, Modiji has a credibility problem,” Gandhi said, a day after the Congress lost to the BJP both in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.
Modi remarked on Monday that the Gujarat verdict showed that the campaign of casteism had been defeated by development.
“I am talking about credibility. Modiji spoke non-stop about corruption but didn’t utter a word on Jay Shah and (French fighter jets) Rafale. The nation wants to know why Modiji is not speaking a word on the Rafale scam and on how Jay Shah converted Rs 50,000 into Rs 80 crore in three months. This is the credibility issue,” Gandhi said.
The BJP quickly rejected Gandhi’s charges, saying Modi’s credibility was at an all time high “not just in India but globally”.
“The credibility of the Congress and Rahul Gandhi is at an all time low,” Union minister Ananth Kumar said.
The BJP on Monday won 99 of the 182 seats — felling far short of Amit Shah’s pledge to bag 150 seats. The Congress improved its tally and got 80 seats along with its allies.
Kumar’s cabinet colleague and BJP leader Prakash Javadekar said Gandhi was twisting and giving a new definition to the BJP’s poll victory and Congress’ loss.
“Today, the BJP is in power in 19 states. In all assembly constituency seats of Amethi (Gandhi’s Parliamentary constituency), in Uttar Pradesh, they fought (civic polls) from 400 seats but could only manage seven.
“Where is the Congress? The Congress is on the verge of extinction while the BJP is rising.”
Javadekar sarcastically said that due to the Congress’ repeated electoral defeats since 2014, Gandhi had “no choice but to consider its losses as victory”.
Slamming the Gandhi scion for questioning the 36 Rafale fighter jets deal with France, Javadekar said: “The government-to-government Rafale deal is fully transparent as no middlemen, commission or corruption is involved in it.
“It is not Bofors… it is Rafale. And it is an example of transparency.”
Javadekar also defended Jay Shah’s business rise, saying Gandhi was confused by the difference between turnover, profit and loss.
“Jay Shah’s company made a turnover of Rs 80 crore but at the end he incurred losses. And Rahul Gandhi is questioning Modi’s silence on that,” he said, asking Gandhi to explain the difference in the nature of the businesses of Jay Shah and his brother-in-law Robert Vadra.
“Jay Shah did not get any government contract or tender and incurred losses in his business. But Vadra bought the land for Rs 8 crore and got the loan amount of the same amount from the person from whom he bought the land. And after two to three months the prices of that land increased from Rs 8 crore to Rs 50 crore as the government changed the rules.”