Congress Party president and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi gives a press conference in New Delhi. AFP/Prakash Singh
Too many leaders —choosing wrong candidates and not leading from the front — spoilt the broth in Uttar Pradesh. “That is our problem,” said Congress president Sonia Gandhi after reviewing the party's performance in the five assembly elections on Wednesday.
Apart from the wrong choice of candidates for the most crucial assembly election in the country, Gandhi attributed the party's no-show to a weak organisational structure. “People of Uttar Pradesh were upset with the BSP, and the option before them was the Samajwadi Party,” she said.
Amid reports of resignation by Digvijaya Singh, party general secretary in charge of UP, and the buzz of an organisational reshuffle, she said, “We will have to sit down and look at the results in every single state and work out a plan to correct the mistakes we have made.”
But to a question whether Rahul Gandhi was wrongly advised on the UP poll strategy, she retorted: “Bilkul nahin (Absolutely not)”.
Asked about the effects of the relentless price rise on the poll results, she said, “Ho sakta hai (It is possible)”, but ruled out any aftershock of the polls on the UPA government.
She said there was no question of replacing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. “Yeh sawal nahi hota (The question does not arise)… Well, we are in 2012...right...there is still time.”
Later, Gandhi rounded up her assessment with a one-liner: “Every election is a lesson for us whether we win or lose.”
But during her one-on-one meetings through the day with party functionaries, especially those in charge of UP, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Goa, Gandhi resorted to tough-talking and sought explanation on the poor performance. The functionaries, however, were tightlipped about the meetings.
Later in the evening, the Congress core group met and discussed the floor management strategy for the coming budget session of Parliament.
Gandhi said the Congress had better hopes in Punjab but were affected by Manpreet Singh Badal's Punjab Peoples Party in about 23 seats, and accepted voters in Goa were unhappy with her party.