New Delhi, May 20 – Nothing can change the Congress. Not even a historic electoral rout with just 44 MPs in the Lok Sabha to keep the Grand Old Party’s tattered flag flying. So, on Monday the torchbearers of sycophancy got together in shape of the Congress Working Committee here to guard Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, and decided that the mother- son duo will continue to lead the party, despite their offer to resign.
At the review meeting of CWC, no uncomfortable questions were asked about party vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s shambolic campaign. As if oblivious of the necessity to counter the bleak future, the CWC failed to take bold steps needed to revive the party.
Instead, the all- powerful CWC got into ostrich mode to ignore the ignominy of its worst- ever poll performance and continued to latch on to the Gandhis, ostensibly the indispensable familial ‘glue’ that can keep the rudderless, unpopular party together.
CWC, therefore, unanimously rejected a move by Sonia and Rahul to own responsibility and resign over the debacle. It also empowered the Gandhis to take any corrective step needed to re- strengthen the 128- year- old party.
It was widely speculated that CWC will find scapegoats to shield the Gandhis from the blame for poll debacle. But CWC preferred to avoid that move. Sticking their heads in the sand, the Congress bigwigs spoke about introspection, seemingly to understand why people of India rejected their party which followed an arrogant policy of doles for the poor, suffocated citizens with inflation and price rise, ignored their aspirations and shocked the country with humongous scams.
The CWC’s decision to do nothing about the uninspiring leadership of Rahul Gandhi was communicated to the media by Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi, following the two- and- a- half- hour meeting.
Rahul, who led the lacklustre and unfocussed campaign, and whose advisers are being blamed by many in the party for the poor showing, said he wanted to begin a culture of accountability by quitting his post.
” Rahulji said he takes responsibility and offered to resign, but the CWC did not agree with it. He also said that party lacks accountability and that he intends to resign to initiate a culture of accountability,” Dwivedi said.
” Soniaji took the responsibility and offered to resign, although the party members rejected it unanimously.
Even Dr. Manmohan Singh said he takes the responsibility for government’s failure,” he added.
Following Gandhis’ offer to resign, outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh quickly intervened to say that it would not solve the problem. Other members followed suit, noting the poll results were a ” collective responsibility.” Former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh said, ” The future course of action will be decided by the party president and vice- pres- ident.”
“There is no question of us evaluating Rahul Gandhi. We have to hit the ground as we have Assembly elections coming in six months. We have to get our act together and have to deliver,” echoed Renuka Chowdhury.
Ajit Jogi said, ” There should not be knee – jerk reactions. Resignations by anyone will not yield any results. We have to sit together and discuss things in its entirety.” Raj Babbar added: ” We will fight under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi.
“Surprisingly, the CWC identified polarisation of the majority as one of the main reasons for its defeat though it admitted there were shortcomings in its communication strategy, and efforts to curb corruption and price rise. Outgoing PM Singh accepted his government’s failure in dealing with these issues.
Sonia described the poll result a great disappointment, but said it should not dishearten the Congress. “The results of the elections are extremely bad, but we must not be disheartened. The task of the Congress goes far beyond winning elections,” she said.
While Rahul praised the 10 years of UPA government headed by Manmohan Singh, Sonia noted it is normal for any government to face antiincumbency after such a long period. ” It is but normal that after 10 years in office any government will face anti- incumbency.
I also believe the message of the Congress was lost in the din raised by an aggressive and polarising campaign by our opponents, which was backed by unlimited resources and a hostile media,” she said.
Noting ” obvious shortcomings,” the CWC said the party could not read changes sweeping Indian society. ” It is clear that we failed to read the profound changes that had taken place in the country during the 10 years since the UPA was voted to form the government…
changes that were in large measure due to the policies, programmes and legislations that had ushered an era of rapid growth, empowerment of the people and high expectations,” the CWC said. ” Above all, we should introspect as to why we were unable to connect with the electorate.”