Congress Working Committee admits UPA failures

The offer of resignation by Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi, following the party’s worst-ever electoral defeat, was expectedly rejected by the Congress Working Committee on Monday. The members, instead, stressed that at this critical juncture, the party needed their leadership even more to fight a “Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-backed Bharatiya Janata Party government.”

Caretaker Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who spoke immediately after Ms. Gandhi, accepted that the United Progressive Alliance government had not been able to do enough to confront the twin issues of inflation and corruption. He, however, added that the resignations of the leaders would not help resolve the crisis that the party was going through.

Later, in a unanimous resolution passed at the end of a two-and-a-half hour-long meeting, the CWC expressed full faith in their leadership, and authorised Ms. Gandhi to take whatever steps necessary “to revamp the party organisation at all levels.”

Party sources indicated that some committees were likely to be set up to look into the reasons for the humiliating defeat.

Mr. Gandhi, the third speaker at the CWC meeting at the AICC headquarters here, said the party lacked the tradition of accountability it should have and so he wished to set an example by resigning from his post.

At this point, Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said the CWC was unanimous in its decision that the resignations should not even be discussed; instead, the committee should consider the challenges ahead for the party.

Apart from Dr. Singh, the first three to reject the resignations were senior party leaders Ajit Jogi, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anil Shastri.

In the discussions that followed, the party admitted that the government had not succeeded either in communicating its achievements or in countering Opposition propaganda. But party sources added that there was also a strong resolve that now was not the time to get demoralised as there were five Assembly elections, including in Maharashtra and Haryana, to prepare for. “A strong democracy requires a strong Opposition,” was the general sentiment.

The party resolution said: “…We failed to read the profound changes that had taken place in the country during the 10 years since the UPA was voted to form the government — changes that were, in large measure, due to the policies, programmes and legislation that had ushered in an era of rapid growth, empowerment of the people and high expectations.”

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