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Differences in Congress over Lok Sabha poll loss

Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot’s alleged attack on his deputy and state Congress chief, Sachin Pilot, for his son Vaibhav’s loss from Jodhpur has again brought to the fore the bitter internal power struggle in the party.

delhi Updated: Jun 05, 2019 01:58 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Congress,Lok Sabha poll,loss
Gehlot had also said the Lok Sabha election defeat was a collective responsibility, not that of one person.(HT Photo)

Days after the Congress’s humiliating defeat in the general elections, the knives are out with senior party leaders blaming each other for the defeat.

Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot’s alleged attack on his deputy and state Congress chief, Sachin Pilot, for his son Vaibhav’s loss from Jodhpur has again brought to the fore the bitter internal power struggle in the party.

This comes amid Rahul Gandhi’s insistence that he would resign his post as Congress president. On Tuesday, however, the Congress maintained that Gandhi continues to be the party president and would remain so in the future.

On Monday, in an interview to a Hindi news channel, Gehlot had ostensibly asked Pilot to own responsibility for the party’s defeat in Jodhpur. Vaibhav lost to Gajendra Singh Shekhawat of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) by over 3 lakh votes.

Gehlot had also said the Lok Sabha election defeat was a collective responsibility, not that of one person.

On Tuesday, however, the chief minister tweeted that the media was unnecessary making an issue of context. Attaching a video clip of 1.42 minutes with his tweet, Gehlot said, “This was a reply to some questions during interview… some sections of media making unnecessary issue out of context.”

In Monday’s interview, when told that Pilot had guaranteed a huge win for Vaibhav at a public meeting, Gehlot replied, “If he had said that, then it is a good thing.” “… the misconception is in media that Pilot and Gehlot don’t go along well… When Sachin Pilot says that he gave zamanat (guarantee) of Vaibhav for ticket from Jodhpur, then where are the differences… I do not understand,” he had added.

On Tuesday, the Congress central leadership came out in Gehlot’s defence. “Shri Ashok Gehlot has stated that defeat is a collective responsibility of both the government and the organisation. It seems a section of the media has become so blind that it only praises the BJP and criticises the Congress,” chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted.

On Tuesday, the Congress’s woes extended beyond Rajasthan. In Karnataka, senior Congress leader Ramalinga Reddy criticised the state leadership for sidelining seniors and claimed that this was one of the reasons for the dismal show in the Lok Sabha polls.

“The Congress party faced a humiliating loss in the Lok Sabha elections because veterans were sidelined in the coalition government and because of the lack of foresight of some Congress ministers,” he tweeted.

Reddy’s words were echoed by Congress legislator R Roshan Baig. “I was sent a notice for criticising the party, but the leadership must instead send notices to those leaders who ensured defeat of seniors like KH Muniyappa (seven-time MP who lost from Kolar ),” he said.

Baig had on May 20 attacked party general secretary in-charge of Karnataka KC Venugopal, former chief minister Siddaramaiah and state chief Dinesh Gundu Rao for the Congress defeat in the Lok Sabha polls in Karnataka.

In Maharashtra, veteran Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil quit as legislator and is likely to join the BJP. Soon after, expelled Congress legislator Abdul Sattar A Nabi claimed at least 8-10 other party legislators were in touch with the BJP. But state Congress chief Ashok Chavan dismissed the claims.

First Published: Jun 05, 2019 01:57 IST