The humbling received by Congress in the just-concluded assembly elections across the country has opened fresh fissures within the party. Anticipating a possible rift in the party, the interim President Sonia Gandhi has now come out to apply the band-aid and keep the party together. Addressing a virtual meeting of the Congress parliamentary party, Sonia announced that the Congress Working Committee (CWC) would meet soon to review the poll results.
“Most unfortunately, our own performance in all the states was very disappointing and if I may say, unexpectedly so. The CWC is meeting shortly to review the results but it goes without saying that we as a party collective must draw appropriate lessons from this setback in a spirit of humility and honesty,” Gandhi was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
Sonia’s statements come hot at the heels of senior Congress leaders issuing statements about the drubbing and urging the party to make changes from within, subtly asking for a change in leadership at the top.
Kapil Sibal in a statement to the media asked Congress to pay heed to the voices being raised from the party. “Congress has not performed well in the recently held Assembly polls. It failed in Assam and Kerala. The party could not secure a single seat in West Bengal,” said Kapil Sibal while speaking to ANI. “Now when voices are being raised from the party, this debacle should be looked into,” the leader added.
Senior leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, who took Sonia’s side during the G-23 letter debacle last year, seemingly had a change in tone after the crushing loss in Bengal where he led the party. Lamenting about how he and his party men were left alone by the high command to fend for themselves, Ranjan did not hold back.
“The TMC raised this that I had been left high and dry and I do not have the support of the AICC. After two rallies, Rahul Gandhi Ji stopped coming to West Bengal because of the Covid situation. It also demoralised our workers and gave a handle to the ruling regime to humiliate us…” said Ranjan in an interview to the Indian Express whilst further adding, “We had to fend for ourselves. We have been decimated by Mamata Banerjee regionally, we have been decimated by Modi Ji nationally. The BJP is the threat for us nationally and Mamata Banerjee is the threat for us regionally. So where should we go?”
— The Indian Express (@IndianExpress) May 4, 2021
Sounding dejected that the party did not have any purpose or stakes in the fight in Bengal, Ranjan added, “The TMC wanted to retain power and the BJP wanted to wrest power. We did not have such stakes, our fight was for survival.
Ranjan admitted that he could not see the light at the end of the tunnel after the defeat and remarked unless Congress changed its strategy, the result won’t change.
“I cannot expect any bright prospects in this present situation. However, things certainly will change because the credibility of the Narendra Modi government has been reducing day after day. So if the Congress is able to put forth its point more vigorously and not confine itself to Twitter or WhatsApp but hit the streets in support of common people”
As reported previously by TFI, the biggest repercussion of the defeat for Congress can be another civil war within the party as the members grow increasingly weary of the timid leadership at the top. The pathetic showing of the Congress has cast aspersions over the capability of scion Rahul Gandhi, who was harbouring dreams of getting the Party President position back.
Last year, the G-23 group, including leaders like Ghulam Nabi Azad, Kapil Sibal and several other Congress biggies had shot out an angry letter to Rahul and Sonia Gandhi, complaining about not having free and fair elections within the party. The letter, however, got leaked before the annual congress meet and an angry Rahul Gandhi went out on a prowl for the blood of those who penned the letter. The party prince even dubbed all the dissenters as ‘agents of BJP’.
Congress is in turmoil and by calling the CWC meet, Sonia is only trying to save her and her son’s position. The Congress had long lost the plot and it was evident from Rahul Gandhi’s tweet after the poll results. While the party drew a blank in the state, the Congress leader instead of consoling his cadre appeared more elated at the news that BJP had not won. If the mindset of party high command is the same as that of Rahul Gandhi, then Congress cannot resurrect its fortunes, not until it has a change in guard.