A corporate style candidate selection process, appointment of jumbo-sized campaign committees and sticking to its decades-old tradition of not naming a chief ministerial candidate did not appear to have worked for the Congress in elections to four state assemblies.
These were the first elections of which Rahul Gandhi had taken complete charge after being anointed the party vice-president in Jaipur in January this year. As general secretary, he had led a high-voltage campaign in 2012 assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh but the party failed to register any significant improvement in performance.
The party leadership is expected to rework its electoral strategy after the crushing defeat in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi and a disappointing result in Chhattisgarh.
In his acceptance speech, Rahul Gandhi had promised to bring in systemic changes in the Congress organisation. He had also touched upon the issue of anomalies in ticket distribution, saying leaders from other regions parachute just before the elections and fly away after getting defeated.
Gandhi had also maintained that no person with a criminal background would be given a party ticket. These norms were, however, violated in the very first elections that were held in Karnataka after his anointment. An overwhelming victory that dislodged the BJP from the only state it ruled in southern India shifted the focus from such violations.
Congress’ preliminary internal assessment pinned the blame on wrong ticket distribution, internal feuds and lack of clarity on the leadership issue.
Congress was expected to put its best foot forward for the assembly elections billed as semi-finals ahead of the final battle in April-May next year, but that did not happen.