The BJP may form a government in Gujarat but "the real winner" in the state is the Congress, finance minister P Chidambaram said on Thursday.
As the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) headed towards victory in the 182-member Gujarat assembly, Chidambaram underlined that the BJP's appeal had shrunk in the state.
"It is true that the BJP has won in the sense that it will form the government," he told the media in New Delhi.
"But the real winner is the Congress, which (is set to win) more seats than in 2007. It is the Congress message that has attracted more voters."
In contrast, he said, the number of seats which would be won by the BJP with votes still being counted would be around 117 – the same number it got five years ago.
"It is the BJP base that has shrunk, even if it has shrunk only a little," he said.
Chidambaram said the BJP win was expected as the Modi government had strangulated bureaucracy.
"The important point is the kind of sweeping victory the BJP was expecting is not there and it has been contained below the number they had last time," Chidambaram said.
He said that Congress has made an impression on the minds of people in Gujarat.
"The exaggerated claims by the BJP have been proven wrong. Large sections of people of Gujarat feel left behind."