BJP leader Arun Jaitley on Thursday termed his party’s win in Gujarat as “emphatic” and its loss in Himachal Pradesh “disappointing”.
“The margin of victory in Gujarat indicates it is an emphatic win. In 2002, we got a nine percent lead in vote share. This increased to 10 percent-plus in 2007 and this time too, it is expected to be in double-digits,” Mr. Jaitley told NDTV news channel.
“Our victory in Gujarat is the fifth in a row (since 1995) and the third in a row with Narendra Modi at the helm,” he said.
He said votes for the BJP defied caste and community.
“We have got votes of tribals and minorities. This kind of vote is not on a particular agenda,” Mr. Jaitley said.
When asked what went wrong with the Congress’s strategy in Gujarat, Mr. Jaitley said: “The Congress did not know which way to go. It did not pitch any national or state leader against Mr. Modi. They wanted to duck development and leadership. By ducking, you never win an election.”
He also took potshots at Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, who said Congress was a winner in Gujarat despite losing.
“Chidambaram is an experienced finance minister. When the economy is doing badly and you cannot improve its performance, you must talk it up. Chidambaram has tried to translate this idiom into the Congress party’s performance in Gujarat,” Mr. Jaitley said.
Mr. Jaitley was evasive when asked about a bigger role for Mr. Modi, especially as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate.
“This is not the issue of the moment. I cannot discuss it on national television right now. Mr. Modi is a very senior leader and is extremely popular with the party’s rank and file. His views matter and are taken seriously in the BJP.”
On Himachal Pradesh, Mr. Jaitley said: “Himachal was disappointing. We led a good government. We could have contested a little better.”
“The rebellion in the party could be a factor in BJP’s defeat. The defeat is more on account of the BJP’s internal troubles than a vote in favour of the Congress. We could have won in Himachal if there were not so many rebels.”