Another election, another defeat and another promise of change.
After every election loss, the Congress leadership promises to transform the grand old party to stem the slide but those assurances have not stopped the spread of the saffron cover across India’s political map.
Here is a look at the statements of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi after the electoral defeats since 2012.
In March 2012 after the defeat in Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, Sonia Gandhi attributed the party’s drubbing to weak organisational structure and insisted that “every election is a lesson for us whether we win or lose”.
In December 2013 after the victory of Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi and the Congress’ decimation by the BJP in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, Rahul Gandhi spoke of transforming the party.
“Congress party has the ability to stand up to the expectations of the people. I am going to put all my efforts to transform the organisation. I am going to make sure that a transformation happens, and I will do it in ways in which you cannot even imagine. We will involve people in a way you cannot even imagine right now,” he had said.
In May 2014 after the party’s worst ever electoral performance that saw it bagging just 44 seats and beating its previous lowest tally of 114 seats in 1999, both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul owned responsibility for the debacle. “The people’s verdict is against us. As Congress president I take responsibility for the defeat,” Sonia had said.
“Congress has done pretty badly in the elections and the party will need to think about it. As Congress vice-president, with all humility I take responsibility for this debacle,” said Rahul who was the party’s face for the Lok Sabha elections and had led the campaign from the front.
A few days later, both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul offered to resign at the Congress Working Committee meeting. But senior Congress leaders competed with one another to stop the Gandhis from quitting.
Again in October 2014 after the rout in Maharashtra and Haryana, Rahul had asserted that the Congress party will work hard on the ground to regain the confidence of the people.
But in November 2015 after the victory of the grand alliance in Bihar, Rahul tweeted, “Bihar verdict was the victory of humility over arrogance, love over hate and of unity over divisiveness.”
In May 2016, the Congress had to eat the humble pie again in the assembly elections in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Assam. In a statement, Rahul said the Congress party will work harder till it wins the confidence and trust of people.
And now after the drubbing in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, Rahul again acknowledged that it was time to revamp the Congress. “We need to make structural organisational changes in the party. That is a fact,” he said but did not spell out what those changes would be like.