Rahul Gandhi on Sunday sought to boost his party’s morale by affirming that the Congress would surpass its 2009 tally in the Lok Sabha polls even as he hit out at the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, for “inexcusable failure” of governance during the 2002 riots for which he demanded “legal accountability.”

Debunking opinion polls that predicted heavy loss for the Congress, the party’s chief campaigner acknowledged there was a “certain amount of anti-incumbency against us,” but maintained that the party would do better than the 2009 elections, when it had won 206 seats in the face of similar grim predictions.

Refusing to hazard a guess about the number of seats the Congress expected in the elections because he was not a “soothsayer,” Mr. Gandhi said: “The Congress is fighting a challenging election and we will win the election.”

The Congress vice-president spoke about the election prospects, his main rival Mr. Modi, the 2002 Gujarat riots and the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, the BJP’s record on corruption and some aspects of his personal life in an hour-long interview to PTI.

In his sharpest attack on Mr. Modi over the post-Godhra riots, Mr. Gandhi dismissed the talk of a clean chit to the Gujarat Chief Minister as “politically expedient” but “far too premature.”

Contending that Mr. Modi was answerable on moral grounds, Mr. Gandhi said: “Beyond that, there should be a legal accountability for the clear and inexcusable failure of governance under him.”

Rubbishing the perception that the Congress was losing allies, he said it had alliances with the Nationalist Congress Party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, the Rashtriya Lok Dal and the National Conference, but lost the DMK and the TMC. — PTI