Post freefall, Congress in soul searching mode

AM Jigeesh New Delhi | Updated on January 24, 2018

Ajay Maken in New Delhi onTuesday V SUDERSHAN

Will Priyanka Gandhi have to enter the fray to save the party?

The BJP may have been routed but for the Congress, the Delhi results are a complete decimation, a “freefall” as AAP leader Yogendra Yadav described it. For the first time, the Congress was not able to score a single seat in the Delhi Assembly.

The reason for Yadav’s glee and deep worry in the Congress quarters is that the AAP has mopped up the Grand Old Party’s traditional vote with the promise of almost similar policy framework, especially with regard to welfarism, subsidies et al.

Except that the Congress’ policies flowed from the top-heavy quarters of the National Advisory Council while the AAP represents a bottoms-up approach.

The “top-heaviness” of the Congress was reflected in the demonstrations outside the All India Congress Committee office after the results where party workers raised the demand for “ Priyanka Lao Desh Bachao (Bring Priyanka, Save India).”

Although party leaders rushed to explain that the need is being felt about having a committee of Priyanka, Rahul and Sonia Gandhi to steer the party, the disconnect between the party’s “dynastic mindset” and the populist, people-oriented approach was criticised by almost all political analysts on popular television networks and outside.

Maken, Chacko quit posts

Meanwhile, Ajay Maken, who spearheaded the party’s campaign, offered his resignation from the post of general secretary, taking moral responsibility for the party not being able to score a single seat in the Delhi elections. AICC in-charge of the State PC Chacko has also resigned from his post.

Congratulating Kejriwal, the Congress pledged to “rebuild” its support base.

“This loss has registered strongly with us and we will take all steps to establish our connect with the people. The Congress Party will rebuild its support amongst the people by working on and executing the core ideas that the party has stood for the last 130 years of its inception,” the party said in a statement.

There is an argument within the party that the collision of welfare politics, especially those propounded by the party president Sonia Gandhi, and the liberal economic policies of the Manmohan Singh government have resulted in the defeat of the party. While a section believes that upholding a ‘centrist-left’ position will be ideal at this hour of crisis, the other section argues that leftist rhetoric will not win votes any more.

Kicking off a debate, former Minister Manish Tewari said it is time to revisit the party’s policies. “You will need to go and revisit your ideological construct because for 10 years you built left of the centre ideological construct. Despite an ideological construct which was left to the centre, which was buttressed by a very strong legislative action, you still have a situation where the AAP has taken over space,” he said.

Wooing the common man

Another leader said the party hasn’t reached any such conclusion. “We should have worked for the common man. They were our vote bank. Most of our policies were alien to them. It was natural that he went for other political parties who promised better facilities for them. We were completely away from their radar,” the leader added.

The Delhi results also indicate that party vice president Rahul Gandhi’s efforts to democratise the party have not gone well within the leadership. “He is unable to make any impact on the leadership. He has held a number of meetings with us after the Lok Sabha debacle. But they were soul-less exercises. He had no suggestions to address the entrenched problem of corruption within the party. Even organisational programmes are being used by leaders to mint money,” a former minister said.

A meeting of the party’s top leadership is set ot assess the reasons for the Delhi poll debacle on Wednesday.

There is a demand within the party to implement the AK Antony panel’s recommendations to revive the Congress.

Published on February 10, 2015

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