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HindustanTimes Fri,01 Aug 2014

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Rahul's 'advisers' face heat, Cong looks for answers
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, May 17, 2014
First Published: 18:32 IST(17/5/2014)
Last Updated: 09:15 IST(18/5/2014)
Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi addresses an election rally in Dadri. The party may not be able to capitalise on his goodwill because of poor organisational structure and infighting. PTI/Atul Yadav

Rahul Gandhi, who led the Congress’ campaign for the 2014 elections, is looking for answers for the party’s worst-ever showing at the polls and office-bearers have been asked to identify the reasons for the wipeout.  

The feedback received from the state units was likely to be discussed when the Congress Working Committee would meet Monday to take stock of the Lok Sabha results and plan the way forward, said sources.

Read: Does polls verdict signal decline of Gandhi dynasty?

The Congress managed just 44 seats, 162 down from its 2009 tally that also beat its poorest showing of 114 in 1999. The party failed to open account in 13 states — Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Goa, Odisha, Jharkhand, Tripura, Sikkim, Nagaland and Tamil Nadu. Sikkim and Nagaland have one Lok Sabha seat each.

Rahul’s attempt to pick candidates in US-style primaries — his dream project — too brought home disappointment. For 15 constituencies, candidates were picked after an internal vote but not one managed to impress voters.

A section is of the view that the Congress failed to project Rahul as a decisive leader when compared to competition — BJP’s Narendra Modi. “No doubt, he led from the front but there was confusion among the people about the Congress’ PM candidate,” a senior functionary said.

Privately, party leaders have questioned the 43-year-old’s leadership and also the style of functioning of his close aides, or Team Rahul.

Many Congress leaders are blaming the “coterie” surrounding Rahul for “wrong ticket distribution and uninspiring campaign strategy”.

Though both Rahul and Congress president Sonia Gandhi accepted the blame for the party’s decimation, these leaders claim that the “band of MBA graduates and NGO activists” had caused “irreparable damage” to the organisation.

Party sources also told HT that Sonia is likely to appoint a committee to look into dismal performance. “It should be a serious effort not wishy-washy like previous committees. The findings should be made available to all party members. We want results… responsibilities should be fixed,” a senior leader said.


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