After Delhi debacle, senior Congress leaders call for new approach within party
The Congress, which ruled Delhi from 1998 to 2013, failed to win even a single seat in the assembly polls and crashed to its lowest vote share of 4.26%.Updated: Feb 14, 2020 05:32 IST
The chorus within the Congress for reinventing the party after its rout in the Delhi elections grew louder on Thursday with senior leaders Jyotiraditya Scindia, Jairam Ramesh, Bhupinder Singh Hooda and M Veerappa Moily calling for radical changes to its approach and functioning.
The Congress, which ruled Delhi from 1998 to 2013, failed to win even a single seat in the assembly polls and crashed to its lowest vote share of 4.26%.
Terming the Delhi poll results as disappointing, Scindia told reporters at Prithvipur in Madhya Pradesh the Congress needs to reinvent itself with a new ideology, new thinking and new ways of functioning.
“In the past 70 years, the country has changed a lot. And in the new era, we have to go to people with new thinking and a new ideology. We also have to evolve a new way of functioning.”
Hooda, a former Haryana chief minister, called for introspection within the party. “The country needs the Congress party and hence we must plan for the future. Win and loss is not the question here but how the Congress has performed is the main cause of concern.”
In an interview with the Press Trust of India, Ramesh likened the Congress’s poll debacle in Delhi to an “unmitigated disaster like coronavirus” and insisted that the party must “ruthlessly reinvent” itself or face the prospect of becoming irrelevant. “Congress leaders have to reinvent themselves. Congress party has to reinvent itself if it has to be relevant. Otherwise, we are staring at irrelevance. Our arrogance has to go. Even after six years out of power, sometimes some of us behave as if we are still ministers.”
Ramesh, a Rajya Sabha member and a former Union minister, said local leaders need to be encouraged and nurtured and given freedom and autonomy. “The substance and style of our leadership have to change.”
Ramesh said the Congress was virtually non-existent in Bihar and almost extinct in Uttar Pradesh but strong in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and has staged a comeback in Haryana.
On Delhi’s poll outcome, Ramesh alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party utilised the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protests in Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh to polarise votes and still lost.
“But the result is a disaster for the Congress party also. It is an unmitigated disaster like coronavirus for the Congress,” he said.
Ramesh said the Delhi result was a rejection of home minister Amit Shah’s style of politics. “It is a resounding slap on his face and it is a rejection of the language used in the campaign, tactics used in the campaign,” he said.
On the perception that the Congress was soft on minority communalism in the country, Ramesh said the party “cannot be selective” on the issue and should target the Popular Front of India (PFI) type of communalism also.
“The PFI or Jamaat-e-Islami type of communalism is as dangerous to India as the RSS type of communalism,” he added.
Former defence minister AK Antony said the Congress cannot be seen to be insensitive to the sentiments of the majority community. “We have to be very clear. We should not be pandering to any religious sentiment of anybody and that is real secularism. Real secularism is fighting communalism of all types with aggression.”
Ramesh said the Congress has to be bold and aggressive against all forms of communalism.
“Unfortunately in the public, the propaganda is that the Congress is soft on minority communalism. It is a reality. We have to address this issue. We cannot live in a make-believe world. We should wake up.”