Congress president Rahul Gandhi may offer his resignation tomorrow (Saturday, May 25) at a meeting of Congress Working Committee to deliberate on the second successive debacle in Lok Sabha polls.
According to reports in a section of media, murmurs have already started within the party over taking responsibility for the poor performance of the Congress across the country, with some of its leaders already sending in their resignations.
The Congress won only 52 seats this time, drawing a blank in as many as 19 states. Once again, the Congress would fail to get the post of Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha for its leader as in 2014 when it had got only 44 seats.
The party has reportedly convened a meeting of the Congress Working Committee, its highest decision making body, at 11 AM on Saturday and Rahul Gandhi is likely to offer his resignation at the meet, party sources said, reported The Indian Express (IE).
Top party leaders, including UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, are expected to attend the meeting.
On Thursday, 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.”
In 2014, too, 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, say reports. “If they want to change anything, change the leadership,” news agency Reuters quoted an unnamed Congress leader from Rajasthan as saying.
There have already been voices within to introspect on why the party failed to reach out to the people.
Resignation of state leaders
Meanwhile, there have been some resignation from state chiefs. Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Raj Babbar and Odisha Congress president Niranjan Patnaik announced their resignations from the post owning responsibility for the party’s defeat in their respective states.
In UP, it managed to win only the Rae Bareli constituency of Sonia Gandhi out of 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state. Rahul Gandhi himself lost from his family bastion Amethi to senior BJP leader Smriti Irani.
Babbar, who contested from Fatehpur Sikri, was defeated by a margin of 4,95,065 votes by BJP’s Rajkumar Chahar.
“The results are depressing for the Uttar Pradesh Congress. I find myself guilty of not discharging my responsibility in a proper manner,” Babbar tweeted in Hindi. “I will meet the leadership and apprise it of my views. Congratulations to the winners for winning the confidence of the people,” he said.
Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) president Niranjan Patnaik said: “I have sent my resignation to AICC President (Rahul Gandhi) owning moral responsibility for the party’s poor show in both Lok Sabha and Assembly polls in the state. While the Congress faced defeat in the state, I too lost at the hustings,” he said.
Patnaik said “the party needs to take concrete steps to set the organisation in proper shape by getting rid of opportunists and attracting youths into its fold.” He said that he had tried his best to bolster the party’s poll prospects.
Patnaik said a committee, headed by senior leader Narasingha Mishra, has been set up to ascertain the reasons behind the drubbing suffered by the Congress in Odisha.
Congress won only one Lok Sabha seat and nine assembly seats in the eastern state.
Also Read: Assembly Election Result 2019
There are also reports that HK Patil, who was tasked to oversee the Karnataka Congress campaign in December, has quit taking moral responsibility.
The enormity of defeat
The Congress drew a blank in as many as 19 states and UTs, including Odisha, Rajasthan, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, and picked up one or two seats in the other states barring Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Punjab.
If the party’s 15 seats in Kerala and eight each in Tamil Nadu and Punjab are to be discounted, then the tally would have dipped to 20. The Congress, one of its leaders said, has become a South India party, Punjab being the only exception where Chief Minister Amarinder Singh held out.
The drubbing was so severe that of the three Hindi heartland states where it returned to power in the assembly elections last winter, the Congress drew a blank in Rajasthan, won only one seat in Madhya Pradesh and managed just two seats in Chhattisgarh.
The good showing in Tamil Nadu too came largely with help from the DMK. It could win only one or two seats in state after state, among them Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Bihar, Goa, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh.
Many of the Congress big guns lost — Mallikarjun Kharge and M Veerappa Moily in Karnataka, Digvijaya Singh in Madhya Pradesh, Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Kumari Selja in Haryana, Ashok Chavan and Sushil Kumar Shinde in Maharashtra, Meira Kumar in Bihar, Pawan Kumar Bansal in Chandigarh, Sheila Dikshit and Ajay Maken in Delhi, Salman Khurshid, Raj Babbar and Sri Prakash Jaiswal in Uttar Pradesh.
Many of its younger faces, including the baba log around Gandhi in Lok Sabha, too fell by the wayside — Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sushmita Dev, Deepender Hooda, Milind Deora, RPN Singh and Jitin Prasada.
Murmurs for fixing accountability
The debacles have got some of the leaders calling for fixing of accountability. At least two leaders said they plan to write to the Congress president, demanding an urgent meeting of the CWC to “discuss what went wrong and the way ahead”, reported IE.
Reacting to the results, senior Congress leader Janardan Dwivedi said to The Indian Express, “I am not surprised,” while another senior leader Anand Sharma said “we lost the narrative and there are many things for that matter which should have been seriously reflected upon on which I don’t want to comment now.”
Also Read: Lok Sabha Election Result 2019
One leader, reported IE, said many seniors had “serious reservations on certain things which were put in the manifesto like dilution of AFSPA and all… in an election fought on hyper-nationalism, Pulwama, Balakot… you are saying that you will remove AFSPA and redeploy the Army… repeal the sedition law. And then you question Balakot and the Indian Air Force. It went down very badly with the people.”
“We failed to reached out to the youth… you can’t give them 6000 rupees… there was total disconnect,” another senior leader said. “People wanted to hear what is your message, vision… they did not want to hear nonsense… none of the senior leaders, from the very beginning, were in favour of usages like chowkidar chor hai, Gabbar Singh Tax and all… these are not Congress phraseology. What will happen if you rely on former JNU activists,” one senior leader said.