The Congress can never die and the country needs it, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot asserted on May 24 and said the party will again reach out to people to ascertain the reasons for its drubbing in the Lok Sabha polls.
The senior Congress leader said the BJP played on emotions and sentiments of the people and never fought on real issues.
During the election campaign, the people never got to know the BJP's vision for the country and stand on issues such as unemployment, farm distress and economy, he said.
The Rajasthan chief minister said the people's mandate in a democracy is important and his party accepts it with humility, but expressed his anguish at the manner in which the BJP rode to victory banking on religion, caste and nationalism instead of relying on issues of the people.
"People's mandate in a democracy is topmost and the Congress has protected it all these 70 years since Independence and accepted it with humility. I am pained that in this election the campaign was not issue-based and there was nothing for the farmers, poor, villages, backwards, Dalits and there was no discussion on providing jobs to youths," he told PTI.
"The BJP did politics only on religion, caste, nationalism and the bravery of soldiers. Rahul Gandhi did a lot to try and make the campaign issue-based. But, no vision for future was given and no achievements were listed and the BJP won over people by speaking lies. People got swayed and voted for them," he said.
Gehlot, in whose state the Congress got wiped out and his son lost in Jodhpur, recalled the time when former prime minister Indira Gandhi lost in 1977 but steered the party back to victory three years later.
"The Congress is in the same position as it was when Indira Gandhi had lost. But, she won back the mandate of people and the party ruled for over 25 years. While victory and defeat are part of democracy, but we would want that in the future the campaign should not go the way it has gone in this election," he said.
The senior Congress leader said "sabka saath, sabka vikas" means something else for the BJP, but for the Congress its true meaning is that people of all religions, castes, creed and groups should be united and their progress should be ensured.
He said party chief Rahul Gandhi has said that it is a fight for ideology and there is no personal animosity with the BJP.
"In this election, the mandate has not been given on the basis of ideologies, it is given by invoking the sentiments and emotions of people and only time will tell whether they stand on the hopes and aspirations of people," he said.
Gehlot said the Congress has made a huge contribution in the nation's development.
"The Congress can never die in this country. Today, the country needs Congress and even with such less numbers the Congress played the role of the opposition in a befitting manner. In the last five years, the Congress despite having (just) 44 MPs did not let the country know that it is weak," he said, lauding Rahul Gandhi's leadership.
"The way he cornered Modi and the BJP on various issues such as unkept promises, jobs, development and farm crisis...but no reply came (from the government and the entire country saw this. The Congress has a future in the country and the new generation which has been misled by the BJP will realise which kind of ideology and policies are required to take the country forward," he said.
The BJP won 303 of the 542 parliamentary seats. The Congress bagged just 52, two less than it needs for a Leader of Opposition post in the lower house and marginally more than the 44 it got in the last general elections.