After assembly poll debacle, Congress may go in for a reshuffle

  • HT Correspondent, HindustanTimes, New Delhi
  • Updated: May 21, 2016 01:51 IST
A police officer walks in front of a hoarding bearing the image of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi outside the All India Congress Committee office in New Delhi. (AFP)

The Congress’s electoral defeat in four states led to urgent introspection in the party and a working committee meeting would be announced soon to address the factors behind the debacle, sources said on Friday.

This came amid rumbling in the principal Opposition party over the poll results, with senior leader Digvijaya Singh suggesting the time for introspection was over and “surgery” was the need of the hour.

Congress sources indicated that a much-anticipated organisational reshuffle would take place shortly.

Singh told HT “accountability” had to be fixed and functioning of the party “reviewed” in view of the electoral downslide. He suggested the Congress have a “margdarshak mandal” along the lines of that in the BJP, which edged out veteran leaders such as LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi from decision-making bodies and kept them in a group to guide the party.

Read | In depth: After Assam, Kerala losses, Congress struggles to stay relevant

Asked if he meant some veteran leaders should be excluded from the decision-making process, the Congress general secretary refused to elaborate, saying it was for the party leadership to decide. Singh’s call for action was endorsed by many Congress leaders but they refused to go public with their views.

Congress spokesman PC Chacko said Singh should have discussed these issues at party fora. “Reasons for the debacle and remedial measures will be discussed at the next CWC (Congress working committee) meeting which will be held soon,” he said.

Read | Puducherry lone bright spot for Congress in summer of disappointment

Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said wherever there were shortcomings the party should remove them.

“Today’s results disappointing but not unexpected. We have done enough Introspection shouldn’t we go for a Major Surgery ?” Singh had tweeted on Thursday soon after Congress president Sonia Gandhi issued a statement that pledged introspection.

“We will introspect into the reasons for our loss and will rededicate ourselves to the service of the people with greater vigour,” she had said.

Singh was followed by Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor. “Very clearly, the party as a whole has to move beyond this sort of clichéd introspection business into some serious action,” he said.

Read | Hands down! Congress also suffers setbacks in by-elections

But the party did not agree with them. “Surgery probably is not the first step. It is done only when unavoidable. We will soon come out with proper prescription,” Chacko said.

Chacko said the party had given freedom to state units to decide on poll strategies. “We are not saying the national leadership is not responsible,” he said.

The party vowed to bounce back and silence those writing it off. “Congress has got inner vitality to bounce back. In the past also, we had been written off many times but we continue to exist today across the country’s length and breadth,” Chacko said.

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