Thane (Maharashtra): Against the backdrop of recent poll victory of the Congress in three Hindi heartland states, Union minister Ramdas Athawale on Sunday indicated that party president Rahul Gandhi has evolved into a matured leader. He also said the electoral defeat of BJP in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh has nothing to do with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"Rahul Gandhi has achieved a good victory in three states. He is no more a 'Pappu' now but has become a 'Pappa'", Athawale, whose party RPI(A) is a member of the NDA, told reporters in Kalyan in Thane district. Gandhi was often termed as a "Pappu" by trolls on the social media.
"The defeat in the polls is that of the BJP and not of Narendra Modi", Athawale said.
The Dalit leader also advocated that Shiv Sena retain its alliance with the BJP. "It will be loss of the Sena if it doesn't continue with the alliance", he said responding to a query.
"I appeal to Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray to fulfill dreams of Sena supremo Bal Thackeray. He (Sena) should not think of contesting the polls alone", the Minister of State for Social Justice said.
Athawale further said that the Congress should not remain under impression that it would win the 2019 polls merely by raking up the Rafale deal.