As the Congress faced defeat in Rajasthan, outgoing Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Sunday said the poll results were "unexpected for everyone" but rejected suggestions that bringing forward "new faces" would have helped the party retain power.
He lashed out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, alleging they incited people in the name of religion during the election campaign. The Congress leader said that he had expected that the people of the state would take "revenge" on the BJP leaders but it did not happen.
In a post on X, Gehlot said, "We humbly accept the mandate given by the people of Rajasthan. This is an unexpected result for everyone. This defeat shows that we were not completely successful in taking our plans, laws and innovations to the public."
Later, talking to reporters, Gehlot said that they would go into the reasons behind the adverse election results in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh Replying to a question on whether a change of face in the elections might have brought a positive result, Gehlot said that it would be wrong to say that bringing new faces might have made the party win the elections.
"There was talk of bringing new faces, and new faces should come, but this demand was not there in MP and Chhattisgarh and still we lost the election. It would be wrong to say that we would have won the election if new faces were brought." Gehlot and former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot, who was batting for handing over the reins to the next generation leaders, were engaged in a power tussle since the Congress formed government in the state in 2018.
In 2020, Pilot led a revolt against the Gehlot Government after which he was removed from the posts of the party's state unit president and deputy chief minister.
Last year, an attempt by the high command to effect a leadership change in Rajasthan had failed after Gehlot loyalists dug their heels in and did not allow a legislature party meeting to take place.
Asked if the defeat might affect the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, Gehlot replied, "All these things affect. In the elections, Kharge ji, Rahul Gandhi ji and Priyanka Gandhi...everyone did campaigning massively. Our schemes were exemplary.
"We were expecting to win on the basis of our schemes, laws and promises. But, the government could not be formed." Gehlot said that he would continue to work for the people whether he remains in any position or not. He said that he would continue to work for the people of the state till his last breath.
He said party president Mallikarjun Kharge has asked everyone to now prepare for the Parliament election.
"I wish the new government all the best. My advice to them is that despite working hard, we were not successful, it does not mean that they should not work after forming the government," he said.
He said all the schemes introduced by the Congress government in the past five years, including the old pension scheme and the Chiranjeevi health insurance scheme, should be taken forward by the next government.
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