Starting a soul-searching exercise following its worst-ever Lok Sabha poll result, an informal group of Congress leaders on Saturday met party leaders from Delhi to identify the reasons behind its whitewash by BJP in the seven parliamentary seats in the national capital.
Veterans of Delhi Congress and former MPs Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar were were also called for the meeting, which was led by senior leader AK Antony and attended by five former MPs -- Kapil Sibal, Ajay Maken, Krishna Tirath, Mahabal Mishra and Ramesh Kumar, all of whom lost from seats in Delhi.
Two of the seven former MPs -- Sandip Dikshit and former PCC chief JP Agrawal -- however, did not attend the meeting, which saw participants analysing the reasons for the poor result while exploring the way forward to retrieve the situation.
While Dikshit, son of former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, was not in town, Agrawal's absence raised eyebrows within the party. Agrawal could not be reached for his comments in this regard.
It is learnt that apart from general factors like price rise, corruption and lack of communication, the Delhi leaders also pointed at internal rivalry within the state unit and the style of functioning of Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit as being some of the reasons for their disappointing showing.
There is a view within Congress that while the Sheila Dikshit government carried out development works, it lost its connect with the masses, which is why she herself was defeated by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convener Arvind Kejriwal in last year's Delhi Assembly elections.
The informal group set up by Congress President Sonia Gandhi has, besides Antony, got AICC general secretary Mukul Wasnik and secretaries RC Khuntia and Avinash Pandey as its members. The leaders held one-to-one discussions with all stakeholders, including Subhash Chopra, who was the Campaign Committee Chairman for Delhi Assembly elections, PCC chief Arvinder Singh Lovely and CLP leader Haroon Yusuf.
AICC Screening Committee Chairman for Delhi, PC Chacko, and chiefs of all affiliated organisations in Delhi like Mahila Congress, Youth Congress, NSUI and Seva Dal were also called for the meeting.
In the one-to-ones, the leaders were asked what those reasons were due to which they lost so badly in Delhi. They were also asked to suggest remedial measures for the party to bounce back.
The committee is likely to come up with its report on the poll debacle in around a month, marking a departure from previous occasions when the findings of such an exercise would not be released for years.
The group will tomorrow hold consultations with leaders from Jharkhand, Odisha and Chhattisgarh while on Monday, leaders from West Bengal and Bihar would take part in the review meeting. Congress members from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka would follow on Tuesday.
The exercise is being undertaken at the behest of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who has been asked by the party's apex decison-making body, the Congress Working Committee, to effect the necessary changes in its organisational set-up in light of the poor poll result.
Congress got its lowest tally of 44 seats in the 543- member Lok Sabha in the general elections held in April-May this year.