Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday accused the BJP of using money power in Goa and Manipur to form governments and insisted that his party’s fight is against the BJP ideology while conceding that there was a need to make structural changes in the party.
“It is not about how soon they went, but with how much money the BJP went to steal the mandate of Goa & Manipur,” he told reporters in the Parliament House Complex.
“Out of 5 states, BJP won 2, we won 3. In 2 of the states we won, democracy is being undermined by them, using money,” he said. “Our fight is against BJP’s ideology, what they did in Manipur and Goa is exactly the ideology we are fighting against.”
Gandhi also acknowledged that it was time to revamp the Congress. “Our regional leaders have been running the elections in states. We won in Punjab, Goa and Manipur. As far as the Congress party is concerned, we need to make structural organisational changes in the party. That is a fact.” He did not spell out what those changes would be like.
“BJP won elections in UP, I’d like to congratulate them. Why they won has multiple reasons, one being polarisation,” the Congress leader said.
Ahead of his statement on structural changes, Congress general secretary in-charge of Odisha BK Hariprasad resigned from the post, owning responsibility for the party’s drubbing in panchayat elections in the Biju Janata Dal-ruled state, where the BJP has emerged as the principal opposition party.
Earlier, in the day Gandhi discussed government formation in Punjab with chief minister-designate Captain Amarinder Singh who called on him to finalise the names of the other members of his council of ministers.
Congress sources said Gandhi is also keeping a close watch on the developments in Goa and Manipur where the party has lost the race to the BJP in government formation despite being the single largest party in both the states.
He is also said to have sought reasons for delay in naming the legislature party leader in Goa and staking claim to form the government after Congress legislators went public with their grouse against the central leadership.
A party functionary said it was after Gandhi’s nod only that the party decided to file a petition in the Supreme Court, challenging Goa governor Mridula Sinha’s decision to appoint BJP leader Manohar Parrikar as chief minister without giving a chance to the Congress.
Congress leaders in both Goa and Manipur are in constant touch with Gandhi who also decided that the party should strongly take up the issue in Parliament. He was present in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
Manipur CLP leader and former chief minister Ibobi Singh also briefed Gandhi about the developments in his state.
Post electoral setback in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, Congress leaders have started talking about the need for “major surgery” in the party organisation.
Senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP Satyavrat Chaturvedi said the party is in need of cardiac surgery while Lok Sabha member and former union minister M Veerappa Moily too called for surgery in the organisation but did not blame the top leadership for the debacle.
Another Anil Shastri also said Gandhi is not to be blamed for the defeat in Uttar Pradesh. “How can we blame RG for U.P? He tried his best with total commitment & passion but the people opted for BJP’s promises as they did in 2014,” he tweeted.
“Our campaign in UP was focused & forceful. Rallies & roadshows were impressive but perhaps we couldn’t carry conviction with the electorate. Similarly our over emphasis on threat of communalism acted as a tool for the BJP to polarise the electorate on communal lines… The whole world knows that Congress is a secular party. Why then do we have to harp on this again & again? Who are we trying to convince?” Shastri said in a series of tweets.
The whole world knows that Congress is a secular party. Why then do we have to harp on this again & again ? Who are we trying to convince ?— Anil Shastri (@anilkshastri) March 13, 2017
Shastri blamed former chief minister Harish Rawat for the debacle in Uttarakhand. “He should have gone for a midterm poll after he was reinstated as CM by the court. There was great sympathy in favour of Harish Rawat as the people believed that he was ousted through machinations of the Central govt. Rawat was advised but took no heed & see what has he done to the Congress. He couldn’t even take his partymen along including his PCC Chief,” he said in related tweets.