The Congress on Wednesday said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)'s decision to project LK Advani as its prime ministerial candidate was a "panic reaction" to the party's realisation that it would lose crucial elections in Gujarat.
"The hasty manner in which Advani's name was announced to the top post was a clear indication that the BJP was losing in Gujarat. They are aware that (Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra) Modi will be a free man soon," Congress spokesperson Jayanti Natarajan told reporters here.
"It was a panic reaction and has betrayed the insecurity of Advani. Otherwise, why would they announce the prime ministerial candidate when there are 18 months left for general elections?" she asked.
A day after the BJP made the announcement Monday evening, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh took pot shots at the main opposition party during his election campaign in Gujarat.
He said the central leadership of the BJP was "afraid of Modi".
Referring to the two exit polls after the first round of polling for the Gujarat assembly Tuesday, indicating a close fight between the Congress and the BJP, Natarajan said her party would get a clear majority in the state.
"Trend has shown that Modi will be decisively voted out... He will be sent into political exile," she said.
"After Dec 23 (the day of counting), the people of Gujarat will get a truly secular government, which is not divisive and which will work for the inclusive social and economic growth."
Natarajan pointed out that former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had issued an appeal to the people of Himachal Pradesh to vote for the BJP, but had not made a similar appeal to the electorate in Gujarat.
"Vajpayee himself knows that the party will not win in Gujarat."
The second phase of polling in Gujarat will take place on Sunday.