Several Congress members, at a meeting convened by the Pradesh Congress Committee on Wednesday night, blamed Ministers in the Vaithilingam-led Cabinet and senior leaders for the party's poor performance in the PuducherryAssembly elections.

The meeting, held in the backdrop of the party's worst-ever performance after the 1977 elections, turned out to be an opportunity for party candidates, particularly those who lost the elections, to air grievances.

Chief of Pradesh Congress Committee A.V. Subramanian told TheHindu: “It was a frank and free discussion within party discipline. Some of them were critical of Ministers, senior leaders and even faulted me. But, personally I believe the responsibility lies with everyone.”

One of the highlights of the meeting, according to reliable sources in the party, was a letter from former Minister V. Pethaperumal, which was circulated among the participants.

In the four-page letter, Mr. Pethaperumal charged the Ministers with lethargy and apathy in meeting the aspirations of party workers and addressing the issues of public. Listing the reasons, he said that though the Ministers promised to meet party workers to listen to their grievances, they never did so. “They hardly moved out of their offices.”

Some of the Ministers merely concentrated on their constituencies, he said, adding that this was the same charge they had levelled against Rangasamy when he was heading the Congress government. “In other words all Ministers behaved like Rangasamy.”

Mr. Pethaperumal singled out a Minister for diverting entire funds to his region thereby depriving other regions of benefits.

Senior leaders and Ministers confined their campaigning to select constituencies, he said adding that the party failed to have a cohesive campaign.

In the concluding part of the letter, Mr. Pethaperumal said: “The party should not dream of any sort of alliance or understanding with the N.R. Congress or any other party. We should never sell the party for the sake of political and power comforts of a few.”