Rahul says poll results ‘not bad’

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi at Parliament House on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: Sandeep Saxena

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi broke his silence on Tuesday almost 72 hours after results of the five assembly elections came in, acknowledging that structural and organisational changes were needed in his party.

He, however, stressed that the Assembly poll results were “not bad” though the party was “a little down” in Uttar Pradesh, a State where the Congress won just seven of the 403 Assembly seats after a tie-up with the Samajwadi Party (SP). Simultaneously, he hailed the role of regional leaders who had fought Assembly polls and emerged victorious.

Seemingly oblivious of the extent of defeat in UP — for which the strategy was drawn up by him with sister Priyanka Vadra — Mr Gandhi said there are “ups and downs” for every party: “We had a little down in U.P. which is fine, we accept it. But we have an ideological fight with the BJP and we will continue to do that.”

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, many Congressmen privately expressed dissatisfaction with Mr Gandhi’s leadership not just about the U.P. results but the lackadaisical manner in which the party had treated government formation in Manipur and Goa: in both states, the Congress was the single largest party, falling short of simple majority by just four seats in each State. The sense that emerged from conversations with senior party leaders was that Mr Gandhi had simply not taken the matter seriously.

If most leaders were loath to air their views publicly, senior party leader Satyavrat Chaturvedi set the cat among the pigeons when he questioned Mr. Gandhi’s leadership. Asked whether the party needs to make changes after the U.P. verdict, Mr Chaturvedi said, “Ab karne se bhi kya hoga? Jab karna chahiye tha tab kiya nahi (What's the use of making changes now? They did not do it when they should have).”

This was even as another senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad — and general secretary in-charge of U.P. — defended Mr Gandhi, saying the results were not a referendum on him. “If you hold him responsible for defeat, you should credit him for winning Punjab also,” Mr. Azad said.

Mr. Chaturvedi’s outburst follows similar unhappiness expressed by two other party general secretaries on the way things are managed in the party.

On Monday, party general secretary B.K. Hariprasad resigned from his post, accepting moral responsibility for the Congress’ slipping to third position in the recent Odisha panchayat polls: he said he had delayed his resignation as he did not want it to impact the Assembly elections. It is learnt that Mr. Gandhi is awaiting the return of his mother, who is abroad for a medical treatment, to act on the resignation.

Earlier at the end of last month, another general secretary Gurudas Kamat publicly attacked Mumbai Pradesh Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam — the ex-Shiv Sainik hand-picked by Mr. Gandhi despite stiff opposition from senior party members — shortly after the party’s devastating performance in the BMC polls, holding him responsible for the party’s decimation in the Mumbai municipal polls.

The Congress would form a government in Punjab, Mr Gandhi said, adding the party had won elections in Manipur and Goa. “There were five State elections, two of them were won by the BJP and three by the Congress, and in two of the States where we won, democracy has been undermined by them using financial power... money. The mandate of the people of Goa and of the people of Manipur has been stolen by the BJP,” said Mr Gandhi.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2022 7:41:29 PM |

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