Amethi/New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday conceded defeat from his traditional Amethi seat to Union Minister Smriti Irani, of the BJP, even as the Election Commission continued to update the margin by 44,082 votes.
Around 7 p.m., the results flashing on the EC site, showed Irani has polled 3,32,842 votes while Gandhi, who had been winning the seat since 2004, got only 2,88,730 votes.
Gandhi conceded defeat in Amethi to Irani but won from the second seat he contested in Kerala’s Wayanad.
Gandhi said he takes “100 per cent” responsibility for the defeat in Lok Sabha polls and congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP on their spectacular victory, but asserted his party will continue to fight the ideological battle with the saffron party.
Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters here, Gandhi said the Congress working committee will meet soon and decide whether he should resign as the party chief following the electoral debacle.
“I congratulate Narendra Modiji and BJP for their electoral victory. People of India have decided that Narendra Modi will be the PM again and I fully respect that,” Gandhi said.
He said he accepts the people’s verdict and congratulated the winners. “I take 100 per cent responsibility for this defeat,” he told reporters.“Our candidates fought with whole of heart and courage. I want to thank them from my heart. Our fight is that of an ideology. There are two different set of thinking — one is that of Narendra Modi and BJP, and the other one is Congress… We would have to accept that in this election, BJP and Narendra Modi have won,” he added.
“I accept the verdict of the people of India. Congratulations to the winners, Mr Modi and the NDA. Thank you to the people of Wayanad for electing me as your MP. Thank you also to the people of Amethi. Thank you Congress workers and leaders for your hard work in this campaign,” Gandhi tweeted later.
Asked if he would step down as the Congress president, Gandhi said, “We will have a meeting of the working committee. And they will decide that there.”
Asked again whether he would offer to resign, he replied, “That you can leave between me and the working Committee.”
“Frankly today, with all due respect, is the day of the mandate and I don’t want to colour the decision of the people of India by getting into a long conversation with you about what I think, went wrong.
“Frankly today, it doesn’t matter what I think went wrong, what matter is that the people of India have decided that Shri Narendra Modi is going to be prime minister and as an Indian, I fully respect people’s verdict,” he said.
“I want to say that today is not the day for me to go into the details of this mandate. Today is the day that a new prime minister has been elected and today is the day to wish him all the best and, hopefully, he will look after the interests of this country,” he said.
Gandhi said the Congress will continue to fight the ideological battle with BJP and asked his party workers and leaders to not be afraid.
Gandhi also congratulated Irani, his rival in Amethi constituency in Uttar Pradesh, on her victory. The Congress president had won three consecutive terms since 2004.
“On Amethi results, I would like to say that Smriti Irani has won… Amethi’s people have taken a decision and I respect it. This is democracy. I would like that Smriti Iraniji would take care of Amethi with love and I hope that she will reward the trust that Amethi’s people have placed in her,” he said.
Gandhi said there are a lot of people who believe in Congress’ ideology and he would like to assure them there is nothing to worry.
“I had said during the campaign that whatever you say to me or whatever you say to abuse me, I will be responding with love. And I would like to say that whatever may happen now, I will be responding with love only. This is my philosophy,” he added.