Congress Gneral Secretary Rahul Gandhi fought the Uttar Pradesh state assembly elections on the basis of a strategy formulated with heavy management style inputs.
The results were disastrous. Now weeks after the humiliation, he has begun another management style review.
As a part of the exercise, Gandhi met 150 defeated Congress candidates - who polled more than 20,000 votes - in three batches for a detailed review.
The candidates came armed with responses to a two-page 13-point questionnaire that is now expected to form the data-bank for the formulation of future strategies.
The meetings are scheduled to continue on Friday, with the 28 successful candidates, the observers and MPs.
In these meetings, Gandhi is accompanied by party secretary Avinash Pande, the Rajya Sabha MP from Maharashtra.
Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh is not attending these sessions as he is abroad.
“The objective of this exercise is to plan for the future. The candidates have also been asked to suggest the name of their best worker (he/she could be the likely alternative to them), as well as the options for the local bodies elections that are due soon,” said a party functionary.
Waiting outside the Congress war room, the defeated candidates were in a mood to speak out their mind, and were frank and forthright in their assessments of the factors that led to their defeat. “We do not know about other areas. We feel that every constituency has a different reason for the outcome. But in Banaras, the BJP won three seats in the urban areas, because of communal polarisation. The choice of candidates by the SP actually helped the BJP win,” said Dayashankar
Mishra who nearly doubled the votes polled by him five years ago from 22,000 to 45,000, but still lost by 13,000 votes, dismissed the suggestion that the promise of a quota for minorities from within the OBC reservations cost the Congress heavily. “By that standard, the SP should have suffered most. We had promised only 9%, they promised 18%,” said Mishra.
Even as the bulk of the candidates blamed the lack of organisational structure, none of them held Rahul Gandhi responsible for the outcome. “We must concentrate more on building the organisation, rather than getting legislators or MPs elected,” said another defeated candidate Suresh Bharati.
“Elections in our state are decided on local factors. So what the ministers are speaking about any issue is hardly relevant at the constituency level,” he said while commenting on the impact of the controversial statements made by union ministers Salman Khurshid, Sripakash Jaiswal and Beniprasad Verma.
With the next challenge for Congress and Rahul Gandhi coming up in Gujarat where it has a formidable foe in Narendra Modi, this review exercise is expected to yield some inputs for the campaign there.
The Congress is also expected to make some changes in the assignments of its senior leaders, and the experiences in the five states that went to polls earlier this year with below-par results, are likely to influence these placement decisions.