Former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan on Thursday admitted that the Congress faced tough challenges after the Lok Sabha poll debacle and immediate corrective steps were required to lift the morale of party workers.
"The organisation has to be strengthened and the morale of the workers needed to be boosted. People-oriented decisions need to be expedited," Chavan told journalists after a meeting of Congress leaders to review the party's performance. He described the results as shocking and said they must be micro-analysed.
The meeting held at Tilak Bhavan was convened by Manikrao Thakre, the party's state chief. The constituencies that were discussed were Latur, Akola, Jalna, Dhule, Nandurbar, Sindhudurg-Ratnagiri, Aurangabad, Nanded and Hingoli.
Chavan is one of only two Congress candidates elected to the Lok Sabha from 48 constituencies in Maharashtra. While he won from Nanded, Rajiv Satav was elected from Hingoli.
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) won four seats and the remainder 42 were swept by the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party.
Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, who spearheaded the party's election campaign in the state, said the poll outcome was because of some policies of the Central government.
"It is difficult to concretise (the party's poor showing). A lot of it cannot be articulated. We will have to find out whether communal polarisation took place or not," the chief minister told journalists.
He refused to accept that there was a "Modi wave" and asked why if there was one the impact was not felt in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal or Odisha.
"He (Narendra Modi) did campaign in a professional manner. We could have done the same; nobody stopped us from doing so. We lacked in communication (with the people)," the chief minister said.
He agreed that some decisions by the UPA government like scrapping of coal blocks and delay in giving environmental clearances were important factors. "Many of these issues affected the common people. The middle class even linked inflation to corruption," he said.
Meanwhile, the NCP has pointed to a "communication deficit" on the part of prime minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi as a cause for the defeat.
"While BJP leaders aggressively spoke in Hindi against the government's policies and hence connected with the maximum number of people, the response from Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi and finance minister P Chidambaram was in English," Nawab Malik, NCP spokesperson, told journalists after a meeting of party leaders convened by Sharad Pawar.
He said Pawar exhorted state ministers to rectify their mistakes and begin on afresh with an eye on the Assembly elections. Praful Patel, Govindrao Adik, Arun Gujarati, Babanrao Pachpute were among those who attended the meeting.
Pawar plans to meet with party legislators, the party's candidates who contested the Lok Sabha polls, district unit chiefs and office-bearers.