As the ruling Congress did well across his state, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday trashed criticism of the party president Rahul Gandhi after the party's Lok Sabha defeat, saying he has worked closely with Rahul Gandhi and found him to be a "fine leader".
"Winning or losing are part of the game. If the BJP could rise from two seats when the Congress had over 300 seats in the Lok Sabha, it can and will rise again,"he said.
The chief minister also rejected charges of dynastic politics by the Congress, maintaining that Rahul Gandhi was never thrust on the people but was duly elected the president of the Congress.
The Congress leader said Hindutva did not have any impact in Punjab and cautioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi against “destroying India's secular credentials".
Amarinder Singh said he did not agree with the "brand of nationalism being promoted by the BJP" as every citizen of India was a nationalist and the nation's strength was in its diversity.
The chief minister said giving Modi the credit for the Balakot airstrike was “totally wrong" as other leaders before him, including former prime minister Indira Gandhi, had taken such strong steps and given due credit to the armed forces.
Punjab's ruling Congress won eight of the 13 Lok Sabha seats, one of the few states where it did well, while the BJP and its ally Akali Dal bagged two seats each. Bhagwant Mann, the AAP's only hope, retained his seat.
The prominent winners included actor-turned politician Sunny Deol (Gurdaspur), Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal (Bathinda) and her husband Sukhbir Singh Badal (Ferozepur) and former Union Ministers Manish Tewari (Anandpur Sahib) and Preneet Kaur (Patiala), wife of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.