The Assembly poll results in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh mark the "beginning of a change", Nationalist Congress Party Chief Sharad Pawar said on Wednesday, dubbing the outcome as "rejection" of the BJP-led government's policies.
He also hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his "personal attacks" on the Gandhis, saying it "did not behove" the person holding highest office to speak so.
Mr Pawar, who turned 78 on Wednesday, said his party would support the Congress and also suggested the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) to join the opposition's fold ahead of the 2019 general polls.
Referring to the constant criticism of Rahul Gandhi by the BJP, the former Union minister said people did not like the Congress chief being "ridiculed" and called as Pappu by the ruling party.
Mr Pawar said the results also showed that people accepted Mr Gandhi as the Congress president.
Asked whether Mr Gandhi will be the opposition's joint candidate for the prime minister's post in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Mr Pawar curtly replied he "was not aware of any such discussion".
He also said the issue of Ram temple would not fetch votes for the ruling party if used again in the 2019 polls, contending people do not respond to a certain issue if raised twice.
The Congress was poised on Wednesday to form governments in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh, signalling a newfound energy in the party ranks and energizing opposition efforts to stop the BJP juggernaut before general elections next year.
"This is the beginning of the process of change...The sentiment among the people is that the BJP leadership has become arrogant due to power. Hence, the results mark changing times," Mr Pawar told reporters.
He made the remarks after meeting party leaders and workers who had turned up to greet him on his birthday.
He said the Congress played a "key role" in giving an alternative to the BJP in the states which went to polls, while the like-minded parties chose to ensure there was no division of votes.
"People have clearly expressed disappointment over the BJP's four-and-half-year tenure at the Centre, its decisions and aggressive campaigning...People have rejected the policies of Modi government," he said.
Slamming PM Modi, Mr Pawar said he kept making "personal attacks" on the Gandhis as the PM did not have "anything concrete" about the development plank raised before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
Referring to PM Modi's remarks made after a middleman in the August Westland VVIP chopper deal was extradited to India ahead of the Rajasthan polls, Mr Pawar said PM Modi allegedly issued a threat saying "he (Modi) would show what a chaiwala could do" in the case.
At his rally in Rajasthan on the last day of campaigning before the Rajasthan polls, PM Modi had said, "The government has brought the middleman (Christian Michel) involved in a helicopter scam from Dubai. He served politicians and will now disclose secrets."
Mr Pawar said, "Such threats do not behove someone who has occupied that (PM's) post. He talked about a single family throughout the campaign (in these states)...the move backfired on the BJP. Rather, people were surprised by such an attack and they did not welcome it."
On the Shiv Sena's frequent criticism of the BJP, he said the Uddhav Thackeray-led party may be critical of its senior ally, but the two would come together for elections in the future.
"I don't not have any doubt about it (the coming together of the two parties)," he added.
Pawar also alleged that the Modi government took the decision of demonetisation without consulting the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
People did not like the government's attack on such institutions, he claimed.
Prime Minister Modi had announced invalidation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 old currency notes on November 8, 2016.