Putting up a brave face after the "unexpected scale of defeat" in the assembly polls, Congress today said it should not be "written off" in the Lok Sabha polls as Rahul Gandhi reached out to the deprived sections in a big way in the party's manifesto making exercise.
As the Congress launched the first major consultations for preparing the party's manifesto for 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the party declared that Gandhi has opened the closed doors of politics by ensuring grassroot participation in policy making.
Addressing a meeting of Dalits, tribals and OBCs, Gandhi said that politics is so far being done from behind the closed doors and windows and the political process is restricted to some 500 odd people. "It is a narrow elite, which constitutes the political establishment and each party is run by a narrower group," he said promising to open the system.
Briefing reporters later, party General Secretary Mukul Wasnik gave signals that the party would have to take a call on the issue of reservation of private sector if the affirmative action plan being implemented so far does not get full backing of the business and industry.
He cautioned the private sector that it will have to pay attention to the affirmative action effectively otherwise, the demand for reservation in the section will grow louder.
Refusing to go into post-mortem of assembly results, which concluded recently giving Congress a 4-1 jolt, Union Minister Jairam Ramesh said that he sees it "not as the worst of times" for his party as similar things have happened in past including in 2003.
"We should not be written off. There is a need to learn appropriate lessons from the defeat we have suffered in the assembly election....The scale of defeat was unexpected....It is disappointing but not demoralizing...We have faced such situations in the past.
"You will see it in the coming days how Congress rises to the occasion. I do not see it as our worst of times. 2003 was equally bad. We had lost Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh very narrowly Chhattisgarh and had also lost Mizoram. We were written off by all you. Contrary to all expectations, we came to power," Ramesh said replying to a volley of questions.
Moves are also afoot to hold an AICC meeting, possibly in January to chart out the strategy for the Lok Sabha polls due in April-May.
The manifesto will be ready by the first week of February and it will be open for public discussion for the next one and a half months, Ramesh said.