After poll drubbing Congress to meet on Sunday
New Delhi: The Congress Working Committee will meet on Sunday to discuss the outcome of the assembly elections in five states where the party received a drubbing, sources said.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi will chair the meeting of the party’s top decision-making body at its headquarters here at 4 PM on Sunday, they said.
The Congress lost Punjab to the AAP and could not win any of the four other states — Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur.
The Congress could manage to win only two of the 403 assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh, with a vote share of only a meagre 2.33 per cent, and most of its candidates lost their security deposits.
This despite a high-pitched campaign led by AICC general secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who focussed her campaign around women and the youth.
Sunday’s meeting is likely to see some fireworks as the G-23 leaders had suggested corrective measures after the previous round of assembly polls, when the Congress lost Puducherry and failed to make a mark in Kerala, Assam and West Bengal, but there had been little movement on that front.
The leaders of G-23, who have been demanding an organisational overhaul, had met on Friday evening at the residence of senior leader Ghulam Nabi Azad to evolve their strategy ahead of the crucial CWC meeting.
Azad and senior leader Anand Sharma are the two leaders of the group who are part of the CWC. Mukul Wasnik, also a member of the CWC, had initially signed a letter from the group to Gandhi but has since kept his distance.
The ‘Group of 23′, at their Friday evening meeting, expressed shock at the party’s defeat. Sources said the leaders discussed the way forward and steps for the revival of the Congress which has become even “more marginalised, weakened and isolated”.
They also expressed dismay at the Congress leadership not taking any corrective steps to revive the party, the sources said.
Some leaders were concerned that the report of the committee formed to evaluate the party’s losses in Assam, West Bengal, Kerala and Puducherry was not even discussed.
Following the poll debacle, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, who is among the G-23 leaders, on Thursday said it is clear that change is unavoidable.
“All of us who believe in INC India are hurting from the results of the recent assembly elections. It is time to reaffirm the idea of India that the Congress has stood for and the positive agenda it offers the nation.
“And to reform our organisational leadership in a manner that will reignite those ideas and inspire the people. One thing is clear, change is unavoidable if we need to succeed,” he had tweeted.
In a telephonic interview with PTI, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury conceded the Congress lost due to organisational weakness but said there was no need for a change in the party leadership.
“There is an organisational weakness in our party and that is the reason we have lost,” Chowdhury told PTI.
He said party leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra have been doing their best.
“Who will be the next leader? If change in leadership is meant to remove Rahul Gandhi or Priyanka Gandhi, then one has to ask who will replace them. Both Rahul and Priyanka have been trying wholeheartedly, there is no doubt about their effort,” he said.
The Congress’ organisational elections are already underway and the party will get a new president between August 21 and September 20. Thereafter, elections to the CWC will be held by October at the All India Congress Committee Plenary session.
The party launched an enrolment drive for members on November 1 and it will continue till March 22. Thereafter, the District Congress Committees will publish the list of members and the eligible candidates for various party bodies between April 1 and April 15, followed by the election of president and executive committees at the block level. This process would be completed between April 16 and May 31.
The elections at the Congress District Committee level for deciding local presidents, vice presidents and treasurers will take place between June 1 and July 20. The PCCs will face elections between July 21 and August 22.
Senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi called for “reconfiguration” throughout the party to achieve results in future elections, though he did not call for a change in the top.
“It always comes back to leadership. They have never hesitated to face the bullet, nor have they ever escaped. They are ready to own up to everything. We do need reconfiguration from the bottom of the party,” he said.
“I am confident of finishing the (intra-party) elections in August. If someone out of the existing leadership or related thereto is re-elected by a clear majority, then on what democratic basis will you negate them? So this intra-party election is needed. We must have this election and thereafter that top-level thing has to settle down irrespective of who is there on the top,” he said.
Taking to Twitter on Saturday, Congress leader Pawan Khera urged partymen not get disheartened by the assembly poll results and continue the fight with the same vigour and zeal.
“Do the roots of a tree surrender to Autumn?” he asked.