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Jairam Ramesh admits Congress facing ‘existential crisis’, says party needs ‘collective effort’ to overcome Modi-led BJP

"We have to understand we are up against Mr Modi, Mr Shah. And they think differently, they act differently, and if we are not flexible in our approach, we will become irrelevant, frankly," Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: August 8, 2017 7:57 am
 Jairam Ramesh, Congress, Congress crisis, Rahul Gandhi, PM Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, Gujarat Rajya Sabha polls, india news, indian express Congress leader Jairam Ramesh. (File Photo)

Making a strong introspection about his own party, senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on Monday admitted that the grand old party is currently facing an “existential crisis” and called for “a collective effort” by party leaders to overcome the challenges it is facing from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah. According to him, business as usual approach will not work against Modi and Shah and that party leaders need to show flexibility in their approach to make Congress relevant.

In an exclusive interview to PTI, Ramesh stated the Congress had faced “electoral crisis” from 1996 to 2004 when it was out of power and also faced a similar situation in 1977 when it lost the elections held immediately after the emergency. “But today, I would say that the Congress is facing an existential crisis. It is not an electoral crisis. The party really is in deep crisis,” Ramesh said.

“We have to understand we are up against Mr Modi, Mr Shah. And they think differently, they act differently, and if we are not flexible in our approach, we will become irrelevant, frankly,” the Congress leader further said.

The veteran leader also justified the Gujarat Congress’s decision to send 44 of its MLAs to a resort in Karnataka on July 29 so as to prevent the alleged “poaching” attempts by BJP ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls, saying the saffron party had also “transported” its MLAs in the past.

Stressing the need for the Congress to change its strategy, Ramesh said, “Old slogans don’t work, old formulas don’t work, old mantras don’t work. India has changed, the Congress party has to change,” he said.

Commenting on uncertainty whether Rahul Gandhi will take over as the Congress President, the former Union Minister expressed hope that the Gandhi scion will take the reins of the party before the end of 2017. “I have only expectation. That’s all. In 2018 and 2019 you will be busy with elections. State elections, national elections…and this type of thing…uncertainty is not good,” he said, urging Gandhi to end the uncertainty.

Describing Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s decision to return to the NDA fold as a “complete betrayal of the mandate”, the Congress leader admitted that it was a big setback for the anti-BJP coalition in the country. “Personally, I was aghast, astonished, deeply disappointed, but we have to move on and we don’t have time,” said Ramesh, who shares a personal rapport with Kumar.

With PTI inputs

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  1. N
    Niladrinath Mohanty
    Aug 8, 2017 at 8:30 pm
    As much I have understood the Congress party does not have any informal natural leaders. The so called leaders including Jairam Ramesh are appointed leaders and are basically manipulators and have no grass root connection. Once the Congress party re-establishes its grass root connections of the pre-independence days it will emerge strong.
    1. J
      Aug 8, 2017 at 2:47 pm
      Late relisation by Jairam.better late than never.
      1. S
        Shailendra Nagar
        Aug 8, 2017 at 2:05 pm
        After a long time a very reasonable and honest statement have come from a Congress leader. Mr Ramesh very honestly and rather courageously said that Congress Party is on edges and fighting for its survival. He also boldly said that it should end the atmosphere of uncertainty about Rahul Gandhi's elevation as the President of the party. He also advised his party to change its political strategies to counter Modi and Amit Shah. But the big question is whether Congress Party is capable of adopting different political plans? As of today, it is being defeated in all fronts due to lack of leadership. All their leaders including Sonia and Rahul are busy criticizing Modi and RSS which is meaningless as far as the general public is concerned.People want a party on which they can rely and depend and BJP is successfully winning their faith politically.
        1. A
          Aug 8, 2017 at 1:30 pm
          The corrupt congress looted more wealth than what the British and other invading armies did. The saddest part is despite the do called democracy and rule of law we are unable to punish these rogues.
          1. B
            Aug 8, 2017 at 1:24 pm
            Mr Jairam did not tell us how this crisis can be overcome. Though he knew but he just wants to avoid controversy. The biggest problem of Congress is they give much importance to chamchagiri. Had they given importance to honesty, hardworking and professionalism they would have faced this kind of crisis.
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