Calling for more active leadership by Sonia Gandhi, senior Congress leader and former Union Minister Ashwani Kumar said she was the only person who could steer the party through the difficult times.
In an oblique reference to the advisors of party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Mr. Kumar said the “so-called election strategists” had completely failed the party.
“Mrs. Gandhi is the only person who enjoys the complete support of the party and I am convinced that the party needs her leadership at this crucial juncture more than ever before. This defeat cannot take away from the fact that under her leadership, the Congress strengthened itself. She is a consensus builder and recognises the diverse sensitivities, apart from being the most effective unifying face of the party. Mr. Rahul Gandhi must assist the Congress president in carrying out a comprehensive reform process,” he said, echoing sentiments expressed off the record by several party leaders.
Mr. Kumar said those who were given the role of election strategists were “completely out of sync with the mood of the nation.” “Their failure was reflected in the poor publicity planning and implementation that could not catch the imagination of the people.”
Attributing the Congress’s defeat to a failure to create an emotional connect with the people, Mr. Kumar said: “We could not devise a political idiom of communication that would ring true with the voters. We could not gauge the mood of the aspirational India that did not believe in sops and doles but yearned for equal opportunity and dignity.”
Disconnect with people Stopping short of holding Mr. Gandhi responsible for the dismal performance, Mr. Kumar said the Congress developed a disconnect with the people over several months. “I do not hold any particular person responsible. But it is true that when the people were yearning for decisive leadership, we appeared as a government and a party incapable of standing up for any principle.”
Calling for serious introspection on the cause of the defeat, he said that Congressmen at all levels of the organisation should get the opportunity to work with dignity. “In recent years, dignity has been denied to the cadres, seriously demoralising them.”