As polling for the Lok Sabha elections ended on Monday evening, the Congress core group went into a huddle to discuss its schedule for the few remaining days of the United Progressive Alliance government’s tenure.
This was followed by a stocktaking meeting of party general secretaries. Leaders who were given additional charge of States also gave their assessment of the elections and opinion polls to party president Sonia Gandhi.
Even as TV channels telecast exit polls showing the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance in a commanding position to form the next government, Congress spokespersons were conspicuous by their absence, with the party deciding against participation in TV debates. The reason: in 2004 and 2009, exit polls had projected the Congress as losing the elections. After a decade in power, Congress sources see the UPA exiting from the government and even though there has been talk of an “enlarged” UPA-III to stop Narendra Modi from coming to power, those issues did not figure on Monday.
The Congress also sought to absolve Rahul Gandhi of any blame if the party doesn't perform well. “Rahul Gandhi is not in the government. He is the number two leader in the party. Sonia Gandhi is the party president and there is local leadership. So it is a collective,” party general secretary Shakeel Ahmed said when asked if Mr. Gandhi, who led the party in the elections, or party chief Sonia Gandhi should be held responsible if the results are not up to the party’s expectations.