“We need to introspect on causes of defeat”

The former Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde has admitted that “lack of coordination at all levels” led to the Congress rout in the Lok Sabha polls.

“There was lack of coordination on all fronts, both within the party and between the party and the government. We will have to work very hard to recover from this,” he said in an interview to The Hindu from his home constituency, Solapur.

However, Mr. Shinde, a staunch Gandhi family loyalist, apportioned no blame to the high command. “Both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have been accepted by the people of the country. They both worked very hard. We need to introspect on the causes of the defeat,” he said.

Mr. Shinde himself faced a crushing defeat in his bastion Solapur, losing by almost 1.5 lakh votes. He had been elected MLA seven times and MP thrice from there.

The 73-year-old leader was reluctant to contest the recent poll and made it clear to the party that this would be his last election. “I am clear on that. I will not contest another election,” he said. This implies he is ruling himself out for the Chief Minister’s post in the event of a leadership change in Maharashtra ahead of the October Assembly elections. Mr. Shinde had served as Chief Minister from 2003 and 2004.

However, he clarified that he was not exiting political life. “I will campaign for future elections and remain involved in party work.”

His daughter Praniti is now an MLA from his constituency.

He is among the few Congress leaders to have spoken out in support of Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan after the drubbing in Maharashtra.

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