- Congress is "single biggest obstacle" to BJP alternative: Yogendra Yadav
- He also said Congress had "no positive role in Indian history"
- He said his reaction was "not knee-jerk" and Congress is now "redundant"
The exit polls that predicted a comfortable win for the NDA have given ammunition to Swaraj India chief Yogendra Yadav to shoot at the Congress, a party that he said "must die".
"The Congress must die. If it could not stop the BJP in this election to save the idea of India, this party has no positive role in Indian history. Today it represents the single biggest obstacle to creation of an alternative," Mr Yadav tweeted, expanding on remarks he made on the exit polls in a show by India Today on Sunday.
The poll of polls, an aggregate of exit polls, gives the BJP-led NDA 302 of 543 seats and the Congress and its allies 122.
The founding member of the Aam Aadmi Party, who was expelled from the party in 2015, is agnostic to the idea of a grand alliance at the centre, which includes the Congress, as he has several times in the past criticised the top leaders who he said "were equally anti-democracy and corrupt" as those they were fighting against.
Mr Yadav, however, maintains that the country needs a strong non-Congress opposition and the party led by Rahul Gandhi is the "biggest, single obstacle in the path for creating an alternative".
He also clarified in another tweet his remarks on the Congress's role in India's history. "My expression 'no positive role in Indian history' may have caused some confusion. I cannot possibly deny the great role of Congress before and immediately after independence. What I meant was 'no positive role left to perform in history anymore'. Stand by that," said the former AAP leader who went on to form Swaraj India after he was expelled from the party that he helped found in 2015.
Congress spokesperson Khushbu Sundar, replying to Mr Yadav's strong comments, tweeted: "I am Congress. I am India. I am not going to die even if some such as you wish for. Very disappointed with you Yogendra Yadav ji. Why the onus is always on the Congress to stop the evil? Let there be a collective force. Remember process of decaying is faster than that of healing."
In yet another clarification on Twitter, Mr Yadav said his comments were not "off the cuff angry remarks". "No khundak against its leaders, not knee-jerk anti-Congressism. I think Cong is now redundant for(is actually an obstacle to) defending the idea of India," he said in the tweet.
Though there is radio silence among senior BJP leaders, the exit polls that predicted a big bang return of the NDA drew congratulatory messages from the party's well-wishers and even the former President of Maldives Mohamed Nasheed.
Opposition leaders including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, who has been hopping cities to meet top leaders for a non-BJP alliance at the centre, have rubbished the exit poll results, though former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah stoked concerns among the opposition ranks by suggesting "Every single exit poll can't be wrong..."
Voting in the last of the seven-round election that went for over a month ended on Sunday. Results will be out on Thursday.
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