What did Congress in: Faulty campaign,wrong candidates

Poll defeat Antony panel says party failed to counter loss of credibility of UPA govt

Written by Express News Service | Chandigarh | Published:May 4, 2012 3:03 am

Poll defeat Antony panel says party failed to counter loss of credibility of UPA govt

Too much dependency on anti-incumbency and too little on right selection of candidates led to the Congress’s undoing in recently held Assembly elections.

A committee headed by Union Minister A K Antony,which was set up by the Congress president,Sonia Gandhi,to look into the party’s shock defeat in Punjab has blamed what has,for sometime,been Congress’ bane — infighting,loss of credibility on account of various scams at the Centre and wrong choice of candidates.

The committee,which also has Delhi Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit and Union Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde as members,also had the mandate to look into the causes of the Congress rout in Goa and poor performance in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

Interestingly,the main reasons pinpointed by the panel were missing in the reports submitted by top Punjab leaders to the party high command following the poll drubbing. Finding fault with the campaign plan of the party,the report says it failed to counter the loss of creditability of Congress-led UPA government owing to various scams at the Centre by highlighting the corruption charges levelled against the ruling SAD-BJP combine in the state. Notably,the Congress campaign in Punjab was mostly reactive,relying mainly on satirical advertisements to take on development and reforms propaganda of the incumbent government.

The Antony committee has also blamed party’s over-reliance on anti-incumbency factor as one of the crucial reasons for the poor poll show. This also reflected in the party’s “laidback” poll campaign that failed to factor in the performance of the Parkash Singh Badal-led regime on reforms and development. Also placing the onus of poll defeat on wrong choice of candidates,it says this also led to emergence of too many rebels which hurt party’s poll prospects.

Though it has steered clear of naming senior leaders,the report has also blamed infighting as one of the factors for the rout. It led to fierce lobbying for tickets for kin and loyalists and disjointed campaigning undermining the overall interests of the party.

It has however left the onus of fixing the blame on individuals to the party high command. “It is up to the party president Sonia Gandhi to decide if any change is required. If she thinks it is,she would make the change. As of now,it is too early to comment on the fallout of the report,” Punjab affairs in-charge Gulchain Singh Charak said.

Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh is in New Delhi to discuss the report with Charak and other senior leaders. According to party sources,Amarinder is keen to continue only after a clear signal from the party president.

“The report has blamed factors not leaders. They want to make changes. But heads will only roll after they find who was responsible for what. As of now,Punjab Congress needs someone who can put up a fight against the Akalis and take everybody along. Still Amarinder remains to be a better bet than most others,though his predicament is that he is not too willing to continue but unable to leave,” a senior Congress leader said.

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