The top leadership body of the Congress will meet today to discuss what went down for the party in the national election after the National Democratic Alliance, powered by the pan-India campaign of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, won over 350 seats in the 542 Lok Sabha constituencies that went to polls.
Fifty-two members of the Congress Working Committee, which includes general secretaries Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, her mother and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh and the chief ministers of all Congress-ruled states – Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh – will meet today to analyse the party’s dismal showing in the national election.
The resignation of Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, whose “chowkidar chor hai” campaign against PM Modi campaign could not deliver the goods, is likely to come up at the Congress meeting, a day after three state chiefs of the party sent their resignations to their boss who himself could not keep his traditional seat Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.
On Thursday, Rahul Gandhi said he took “100 per cent responsibility” for the defeat. Asked whether he would quit, he said, “Let that be between the Working Committee and me.” He is expected to offer his resignation as Congress president at the meeting; it’s another matter whether the party will immediately accept his resignation.
His sister Priyanka Gandhi, who was made Congress general sectary in February and was seen as a force-multiplier and a morale-booster for workers, led the party’s battle formation in eastern Uttar Pradesh, a region where PM Modi’s constituency Varanasi is located and some of the toughest battles were fought – the Prime Minister won by a margin of over 4.7 lakh votes.
The Congress won 52 seats across the country, while the BJP scored its “teen sau paar (300-plus)” tally, bettering even its 2014 performance.
In a tweet on Thursday, Raj Babbar had owned responsibility for the Congress’s debacle in Uttar Pradesh. “The results are depressing for the Uttar Pradesh Congress. I find myself guilty of not discharging my responsibility in a proper manner,” he had tweeted.
In 2014, then Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi – who led the campaign as party vice president – had both offered to quit after the party plunged to a historic low of 44 seats.
The Congress, which has always been devoted to the Nehru-Gandhi family, rejected the offer. Murmurs against the leadership are louder this time, after the party managed to win only 52 seats.
The criticism appears to be unforgiving in the second consecutive loss for the Congress in the national election. Historian Ramachandra Guha, who has been admiring of the Congress chief’s great grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, tweeted on Friday, “It is astonishing that Rahul Gandhi has not yet resigned as Congress president. Both self-respect as well as political pragmatism, demand that the Congress elect a new leader. But perhaps the Congress has neither.”