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Mood sombre in Congress camp

As the Congress braced itself for life without power, its primary concern, a day before results roll in on Friday, was to put on a good face before the public and preserve the reputations of its top three leaders — the outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, party president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi.

On Thursday evening, Congress communication chief Ajay Maken conducted a special session at the party’s ‘War Room’ on Gurdwara Rakabganj Road for all spokespersons. Sources said Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra, among others, was consulted on what line to adopt as results flow in on Friday.

Meanwhile, at the party headquarters, 24, Akbar Road, white tents sprang up on the lawns to house mini-studios for TV channels.

Mr. Gandhi, who was absent at Ms. Gandhi’s farewell dinner for Dr. Singh on Wednesday, was back in Delhi but his face — as that of all other leaders — is missing from the new posters that will go up at the headquarters on Friday. All they displayed is the party’s symbol, a giant hand; the message: responsibility for the results would be collective, it would not be laid at anyone’s door.

Senior functionaries were in a contemplative mood, readying themselves for the barrage of criticism on Friday. For those who contested elections, it was especially tense. Sandeep Dikshit, candidate and two-time MP from East Delhi, who was the party’s Chief Whip in the outgoing Lok Sabha, conceded defeat. He told NDTV: “I can speak for myself. There is a lot of anti-incumbency and a win is unlikely. But I don’t speak for the party. Our campaign was not up to the mark, there was anti-incumbency and that clearly showed in Delhi.”

The spokespersons were asked, senior party sources told The Hindu, not to look defeatist or apologetic before TV cameras on Friday. They were instructed to attack the opinion polls that sought to build public opinion for the BJP, and point out the inconsistencies in the various exit polls. They were also told to highlight the huge spending of money by the BJP on its campaign and on advertising in particular. Finally, they were asked to once again talk about the achievements of the UPA government led by Dr Singh, and to defend Mr. Gandhi against any criticism, emphasising that the party would collectively take responsibility for the results.

The party is planning to release a statement by Mr. Gandhi, telling workers that the Congress has only lost a battle, not the war.

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Printable version | Aug 7, 2020 2:27:53 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/mood-sombre-in-congress-camp/article6013382.ece

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