Admitting that structural and organisational changes were needed in the Congress party, its vice president and heir apparent Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday stressed that the assembly poll results were “not bad”. His remarks came amid squabbling within the Congress over repeated poll debacles.
Speaking after 3 days of silence, he chose to call Congress party’s worse performance in Uttar Pradesh, where it scored mere seven seats, as “a little down”.
Congress had contested UP polls in an alliance with the then ruling Samajwadi Party. Off 403 seats, SP had fought on 298, while the Congress on 105 seats. Under his watch, Congress has consistently been suffering poll debacles.
After scoring its worst ever tally in Lok Sabha polls getting 44 in 2014, Congress lost its governments in string of assembly polls – Haryana, Maharashtra, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand and Assam, and scored nought in Delhi assembly polls in February 2015.
Each defeat gave rise to whispers of discontent within the Congress party over his methods and style of leadership, which thus far has remained under surface.
However, acknowledging faultlines, today he called for initiating changes within the party. At the same time, he hailed the role of regional leaders who fought assembly polls and emerged victorious, especially Capt Amarinder Singh under whose leadership Congress won big in Punjab scoring near 2/3rd majority.
“As far as the Congress party is concerned, we do need to make structural and organisational changes and that is a fact,” he said replying to the eager press pack at Parliament House.
He said the Congress formed its government in Punjab and won the election in Manipur and Goa. “That is not a bad result. It is true that we lost the election in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand,” he said even as BJP marched ahead in staking claim for forming government in Goa and Manipur cobbling alliance with smaller groups.
There are “ups and down” for every party, Gandhi said, adding, “We had a little down in UP which is fine, we accept it. But we have a ideological fight with the BJP and we will continue to do that.”
At the same time, crying foul over BJP’s move to form governments in Goa and Manipur, he accused the party of “stealing” the mandate of people and “undermining democracy” in these states by use of money power.
“In the two states where we won, democracy has been undermined by them (BJP) using financial power, money. That is what is happening. The mandate of the people of Goa and Manipur has been stolen by the BJP,” he told.
“Our fight with the BJP is an ideological fight. What the BJP has done in Manipur and Goa is their ideology – and that is what we are fighting,” he added.
However, little before Rahul Gandhi broke his silence, senior Congress leader Satyavrat Chaturvedi hinted at the despair within the party.
“Ab karne se bhi kya hoga, jab karna chahiye tha tab kiya,” Chaturvedi told the press when sought his reaction on ‘changes’ required within the party to bounce back.
(With inputs from the Agencies)