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Fight Oppn, not each other: Sonia

With factionalism costing the party dear in the recent assembly elections, Congress president Sonia Gandhi asked leaders to bury their differences and fight polls in the future as a disciplined team.

chandigarh Updated: May 10, 2012 11:49 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times
congresss,rahul gandhi,sonia gandhi

With factionalism costing the party dear in the recent assembly elections, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday asked leaders to bury their differences and fight polls in the future as a disciplined team.

"As we approach state elections in the coming months, we must draw upon the lessons of previous polls," Gandhi said at a meeting of the Congress Parliamentary Party - the first after assembly polls in five states earlier this year.

Infighting was a major reason for the Congress' stunning defeat in Punjab and the setbacks in Uttar Pradesh and Goa. The below-par performance in Uttarakhand, where it formed the government with the support of Independents, too was attributed to factional fights in the state unit.

With elections in BJP-ruled Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh this year and eight states - including Karnataka, Rajasthan, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh - going to polls in 2013, Gandhi sent out a strong message to her party.

"We must shed all manner of factional behaviour and fight as one disciplined team at all levels. That will be the single-most important factor to decide whether we win or lose," she said.

Gandhi attacked the Opposition for blocking parliamentary proceedings and asked party workers to expose their doublespeak.

"It seems to have become almost fashionable to criticise the government. We must not allow this to deflect us. We must speak with confidence on what we have achieved - and there is much we have to show despite the difficult economic times," she said.

On the NCTC stand-off, she vouched for her party's commitment to federalism. She said the Centre would work closely with the states to protect national interest and fight terrorism.

Gandhi praised the allocation of more funds for key social programmes in the budget, but said public expenditure should be made more accountable and corruption eliminated.

Sonia points at silver lining in UP cloud
Though the Congress did not perform as per expectations in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, it was seen as a serious player in the country's most politically important state for the first time, party president Sonia Gandhi said on Wednesday.

Addressing the Congress Parliamentary party (CPP) meeting, she said the party's voteshare in the 2012 elections had increased "quite considerably".

Gandhi's remarks were interpreted by political observers as a virtual thumbs up to party general secretary Rahul Gandhi's efforts to revive the Congress's fortunes in UP, after it was voted out of power in 1989.

These remarks have come two days after a three-member Congress panel, headed by defence minister AK Antony and comprising Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit and union power minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, submitted its report to Sonia on the reasons behind the party's poll debacle in UP, Goa and Punjab - besides the below par performance in Uttarakhand.

Rahul led the Congress election campaign from the front, addressing 211 public meetings across UP in just 45 days. The party ended up winning 28 seats, 6 more than it had bagged in 2007 elections. It also managed to increase its vote share by 3.03% to 11.63% this time, up from 8.60% in 2007. But this was a significant drop from the 18.25% the party secured in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.

During her first interaction with party MPs after the poll drubbing, Gandhi termed the election results in Punjab and Goa as "very disappointing". She, however, said the party was satisfied that it had returned to power in Manipur for the third time and managed to form the government in Uttarakhand.

Rahul Gandhi was present at the meeting.

First Published: May 10, 2012 11:46 IST

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