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HindustanTimes Thu,30 Oct 2014

Rahul, Sonia offer to resign but CWC says no

Aurangzeb Naqshbandi, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, May 19, 2014
First Published: 14:40 IST(19/5/2014) | Last Updated: 07:39 IST(20/5/2014)

The Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting on Monday saw no top leader stepping down over the party's worst-ever performance in the Lok Sabha elections.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi, however, offered to resign. The CWC unanimously rejected their offer.

The major part of the three-hour meeting was consumed in persuading both Sonia and Rahul to take back their resignations and appreciating their “untiring efforts” and extensive campaigning.

However, the CWC passed unanimous resolution expressing full faith in the leadership of Sonia and her son Rahul, who had led the Congress campaign in Elections 2014.

Read: Congress should make use of its robust second rung of leadership

"We will fight under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi," said party spokesperson Raj Babbar, an actor-turned-politician.

Congress leader Amarinder Singh said, "Future course of action will be decided by the party president and vice-president."

Party leader Oscar Fernandes said the Congress, which won just 44 seats in the 543-member House, will keep fighting in the face of difficulties.

"There is no question of retreating."

According to reports, the Congress will form several committees to find out the reason behind its dismal performance in the elections.

Communication strategy of party came under severe criticism in the CWC meet.

Even though Sonia and her son Rahul owned up the responsibility for the poll debacle, senior leaders are of the view that the leadership has to steer the party out of the present crisis.

Read: Rahul has to be a much more active player in Parliament, says Jairam

Privately, Congress leaders are blaming general secretaries Madhusudan Mistry, CP Joshi, Ajay Maken, Mukul Wasnik, Mohan Prakash, Shakeel Ahmed, Gurudas Kamat, BK Hariprasad, Ambika Soni and Digvijaya Singh for the rout in the states under their charge. These leaders are equally critical of Rahul's style of functioning.

During his interactions with party office bearers and leaders in the past, Rahul had made it clear he would go for "structural changes" in the party organisation after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections whatever the outcome.

While the young leaders hope for a complete takeover and overhaul by Rahul, the old guard insists Sonia should continue to run the organisational affairs and help the party bounce back.

Party leaders have privately also held “arrogant, inaccessible and indifferent” ministers responsible for the election disaster that saw the Congress get just 44 seats, a huge slide from its lowest ever tally of 114 in 1999.

But there was not a single voice of dissent at the CWC meeting as leaders, led by Sonia and Rahul, praised the PM for running the government with “dignity and grace” and at times in the face of “hostile personal attacks”.

Singh took the blame for “whatever shortcomings and inadequacies existed at the administration level” and identified price rise and corruption as issues on which his government failed to communicate with the people.

In her opening remarks, Sonia described the poll outcome as “extremely bad” and blamed the “aggressive and polarising campaign” of Congress’ opponents backed by “unlimited resources” and a “hostile media”.

Admitting that the party failed to keep pace with change, she said its support base has eroded and that its policies were not in tune with the aspirations of the youth.

Sonia concluded her speech with once again taking full responsibility for the “crushing” defeat.

“I believe I have not been able to bring about the necessary changes to strengthen the party. Therefore, I take full responsibility for the crushing defeat and I am prepared to relinquish my position,” said Sonia.

Rahul, too, accepted his role in the defeat.

“Rahul said the party lacks the kind of accountability needed, and he could start a tradition of accountability with his resignation,” said Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi. “He said he could not fulfil the expectations the party had from him.”

The CWC later authorised Sonia to take “whatever steps necessary in order to revamp the party organisation at all levels”.


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