Congress shields Rahul Gandhi, blames CMs for loss
The hammering Congress received in Maharashtra and Haryana after their massive loss in the Lok Sabha elections has set off a war of words in the party, though efforts were on to insulate party vice-president Rahul Gandhi from the blame game.
As he was away in cyclone-hit Visakhapatnam at the time of counting of votes on Sunday, the topic "Where is Rahul Gandhi?" started trending on social networking sites.
On Monday, when he was in Odisha to interact with cyclone affected victims, the party once again dismissed the speculation around Priyanka Gandhi assuming larger role in the organisation.
As the party tried to shield Rahul, former Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and his Haryana counterpart Bhupinder Singh Hooda came under severe attack for the defeat.
Congress leaders said the outcome was a direct reflection of their leadership, and that they were given a "free hand" in ticket distribution and campaign planning, despite reservations from top leaders in their states.
In Hooda's case, the leadership ignored the concerns raised by Haryana Congress chief Ashok Tanwar at the time of ticket distribution. However, the defeat has put a question mark on Tanwar's leadership abilities as well as he failed to take all factions along.
"I think the responsibility should be on Hooda because he enjoyed absolute unbridled power for the last 10 years as chief minister," senior leader Kumari Selja said.
Chavan ensured that the entire campaign centred only around him and had a major say in the ticket distribution as well.
"The blame lies squarely at their doors," another leader said.
Congress is expected to use the poll drubbing to overhaul itself and at the same time, prepare for electoral battle in Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir and possibly, Delhi.