The Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting ended here on Monday in an anti-climax, as Congress President Sonia Gandhi averted a planned attack on her son and vice-president Rahul Gandhi and his team for the 2014 general election debacle. Both Sonia and Rahul offered to relinquish their positions, which created emotional scenes so much so that no discussion could take place, not even choosing leaders of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.
All the general secretaries also offered to resign, saying they were equally accountable for the party's poor show. They told Sonia that she is free to revamp the party as she deems fit. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also joined others in persuading Sonia and son not to resign, pointing out that it is the party's collective defeat. He pointed out that it will be dangerous if leaders resign at this juncture as "a weak Opposition is even more dangerous since we have to play a constructive opposition role". Singh took responsibility of price rise and not responding to the perception of corruption.
Rahul, who followed suit with his resignation, said there was no system of fixing accountability in the party. "Therefore, I begin with this system by accepting the responsibility and relinquishing the post," he said. What followed was a ruckus and the 38 members of CWC, who attended the two-and-half hour meeting, refused to discuss their resignations. They didn't allow the meeting to proceed till both the mother-son due retracted and vowed to lead the party.
Makhanlal Fotedar intervened immediately after mother and son read out from their written resignation letters, wondering what was left in the party if the chief resigns and creates a vacuum at this crucial juncture.
"The CWC appointed by the Congress president itself goes if there is no Congress president and better end the meeting immediately," Fotedar argued even while others joined in to plead that mother and son not to desert the party in its moment of crisis. He later told reporters that Sonia is more important than anybody as the party cannot become headless. Ajit Jogi said the resignations would further demoralise party workers who need a morale boost to come out of the shock defeat.
A discussion between 29 leaders followed, and they later adopted a resolution to revamp the party. The atmosphere, however, became so emotional that the CWC ended the meeting without setting up any committee to go into the factors behind the party's poor performance in the elections.
Among the few who tried to mount an attack included Anil Shastri, who complained that there is no interface between the leadership and party workers. He advocated evolving a mechanism to cover up this deficiency. The CWC authorised the Congress president to take whatever steps necessary in order to revamp the party organisation at all levels.
"It is obvious that there were shortcomings. It is also clear that we failed to read the profound changes that had taken place in the country during 10 years since the UPA was voted to form the government-changes that were, in large measure, due to the policies, programmes and legislation that had ushered in an era of rapid growth, empowerment of the people, and high expectations. And all, we should introspect, as to why we were unable to connect with the electorate," said the resolution.