New Delhi: A dejected Congress party on Sunday conceded defeat in the Gujarat assembly election, saying Chief Minister Narendra Modi's victory was a ‘remarkable achievement’.
"We are deeply disappointed with the Gujarat results," Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal, speaking on behalf of his party, said.
"Our confidence was misplaced. While we have made no substantial gains, Modi has held on to its lead, almost held on to its lead, which is a remarkable achievement," the minister said.
He said the Congress would do a detailed analysis of the verdict in Gujarat, where election officials said the BJP could end up with 120 seats in the 182-member Assembly, only marginally less than what it won in 2002.
"We will have to see the patterns of voting, which community voted for whom. Now that Modi has won, he has to be congratulated for winning, and we have to analyse the reasons he got the kind of support from the people of Gujarat.
"We accept the verdict of the people, which we must in a democracy. And move along."
Sibal, however, denied that the Gujarat result would impact the national politics.
B.K. Hariprasad, the Congress general secretary in charge of Gujarat, accepted responsibility for the party's rout.
"I take the responsibility for the results. It is my failure," Hariprasad said.
He admitted that the party's calculations about the BJP rebels, who had been expected to make a major impact particularly in Saurashtra, had gone wrong. "Our expectations about the rebels went wrong."
"It is a great victory for him Narendra Modi, it is a remarkable victory. I do not grudge him the victory," Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi said.
However, he said the election victory does not remove the "blot" or invalidate what all had happened under Modi's government in the post-Godhra riots.
"The victory is certainly limited to Gujarat and a certain kind of divisive politics has worked there," Singhvi said.
He said the party was obviously disappointed at the results, but added that it was surprised as it was expecting a much narrower margin.
Talking about Congress’ stand on Modi’s image, Kapil Sibal said, "The truth has to be told. We have to fight it up front. Democracy is not about winning or losing a state election. Modi is something that the Congress abhors."
Accusing the Modi regime of instilling fear in the minds of the people of the state, he said, "Fascists do win and repeat their victory."
Gandhi had used the "merchants of death" remark in her election speech in Gujarat on December one, triggering a controversy and inviting an angry response from Modi, who hit back by apparently justifying the encounter killing of Sohrabuddin.
(With IBNLive.com inputs)