Days after Congress won only seven out of 403 elected seats in the Uttar Pradesh assembly election, party vice president Rahul Gandhi has said that the poll results were "not bad".
"That is not a bad result. It is true that we lost the election in UP and Uttarakhand," he said. "We had a little down in UP which is fine, we accept it."
This was the party's worst-ever performance in Uttar Pradesh. Congress had tied up with the Samajwadi Party ahead of the election, but SP too won only 40 seats.
Gandhi admitted that structural and organisational changes were needed in the party.
"As far as the Congress party is concerned, we do need to make structural and organisational changes and that is a fact," he said.
There are "ups and down" for every party, Gandhi said, adding, "We had a little down in UP which is fine, we accept it. But we have a ideological fight with the BJP and we will continue to do that."
Even as he congratulated Prime Minister Modi and his party for their big wins in the just-concluded five-state elections, Gandhi also accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of polarising voters.
"I would like to say that the BJP won the election in UP and I would like to congratulate them," he said. "Why they won it, there are multiple reasons. Large part of it is polarisation. But the fact is that they won the election."
Meanwhile, other leaders from Congress said that some "tough decisions" need to be taken on the party's strategy going forward.
"The UP is a bad loss, it hurts...I agree that, in UP, we need fundamental restructuring thinking for the Congress as a whole," Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi had earlier said. "These have to be hard, tough decisions about strategy."
Party chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala had also said Congress will introspect on the reasons for its loss in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand and will re-dedicate itself to strengthening the party and being the watchdog of people.
Among those who have defended Gandhi's and his role in the party's poor performance is senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad. He had said that the results were not a referendum on him. "If you hold him responsible for defeat, you should credit him for winning Punjab also," he said.
Meanwhile, Gandhi credited regional leaders in Punjab, Goa and Manipur for Congress' performance.
"They are the people who fight these elections and they are successful in Punjab, successful in Goa and in Manipur," he said.
(with PTI inputs)
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