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Congress out for Rahul Gandhi's blood, however party leaders reluctant to demand so in public

Sunday, 18 May 2014 - 8:35am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: dna

Everyone in the Congress, from ordinary workers to party general secretaries, is baying for party vice-president Rahul Gandhi's blood.

They want Sonia Gandhi to take charge and stop "radical reforms" initiated by her son Rahul, who they believe is the main culprit behind the party's debacle. But nobody, it seems, has the guts to take a stand against him publicly. So, the ultimate catchword is: Congress cannot let go dynastic rule.

A spate of resignations is expected at the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the party's highest decision making body, meeting scheduled on Monday. Both mother and son might offer to step down, taking moral responsibility for the unprecedented defeat. But that will be rejected by the CWC in one voice. And to complete this drama, some 40 members of the extended CWC has sent in their resignation letters, hoping they will be asked to continue.

"We understand there was an anti-incumbency factor... people were fed up with seeing our faces daily. But we had never imagined a defeat of such magnitude," a party functionary told dna.

While veteran leaders are annoyed with the way the campaign was put together, younger leaders feel the way the UPA functioned was largely to blame. Another worrying factor is the drastic drop in its vote share. In 1977, the party polled 34.50% votes. In 1999, the party got only 114 seats; but it still had 28.30% votes.

This elections, Congress' voting share has plummeted to 20%.

The younger generation believes the government should have taken the Anna Hazare-Arvind Kejriwal movement seriously. About the various scams, they feel the government should have brought culprits to the book. These would have gone a long way in rebuilding peoples faith in the Congress.

Seniors say the buck stops at Rahul Gandhi. For, he was not only a reluctant leader but he also had deep disdain for seniors and everything that had been put in place over the years. "Instead of reviving social contacts and energising workers at the ground level, Rahul focused too much on systemic reforms within the party headquarters," a leader at the AICC headquarters said.

But his idea had hardly any takers. Party workers believed it was rhetoric and a non-practical idea in the Indian context. Had he focused on people welfare, anti-poverty measures and price rise, it would have been much better.

"Everybody saw the fate of primaries. In the two Delhi seats where he forced primaries — Delhi north-east and New Delhi — both candidates JP Agarwal and Ajay Makan came third in the elections and lost by over 3 lakh votes," the leader said. Instead of banking on experienced advisors and hardcore politicians, Rahul relied heavily on classy foreign-educated boys and girls who sat in air-conditioned rooms and analysed ground realities.

Also, a major blunder was Sonia Gandhi withdrawing herself form the scene at a crucial time and initially refusing to accept Modi as a challenge. Some even gloated that he would consolidate secular votes in favour of the Congress. Poor communication management was another issue.

Rahul's close aides thought the more Modi communalised the environment, the better the chances of Muslims and others supporting the Congress.

When internal surveys predicted a rout, messages went to the government to fix Modi in the Snoopgate case. But Manmohan Singh shot it down.

The knives are out for CMs of Congress-led states as they did not help fund the party coffers. "A chief minister of a southern state was asked to contribute some Rs450 crore for election campaign. But he sent a paltry Rs27 crore," a leader said.

And then there was the election management committee, which didn't meet at all. Everything, from coining party slogans to drafting political messages, was left to the war room boys. Master strategist Jairam Ramesh picked up an advertising agency, whose slogans and video clips just could not stand up to the BJP onslaught. Ramesh, along with Sam Pitroda and Deep Kaul, son of former diplomat TN Kaul, called the shots in Rahul's war room, instead of handing things over to political veterans.

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