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Results 2014: As two others join attack, Team Rahul hits back

Priya Dutt blames ‘disconnect’ with people, Satyavrat calls for ‘honest, ruthless introspection’.

Written by Ruhi Tewari | New Delhi | Updated: May 23, 2014 3:56 pm
Congress President Sonia Gandhi with party Vice President Rahul Gandhi after poll results. (Source: PTI) Congress President Sonia Gandhi with party Vice President Rahul Gandhi after poll results. (Source: PTI)

With more voices joining the rumblings within the party against Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s core team of advisers, a key member of his team hit back on Thursday, claiming that those speaking out were “merely jockeying for positions”.

“Those blaming Mr Gandhi are merely jockeying for positions in the party since they have nothing left. They are making self-serving arguments. A bunch of leaders and ministers created negativity that led to this defeat, and instead of taking responsibility for it, they are now clamouring for bigger positions and blaming the man who prevented a further slide in the party’s vote share,” said the close aide of Rahul.

Stating that these should “not be viewed as revolts”, the aide, known to be Rahul’s adviser on key issues, said, “These leaders and ministers just do not want to accept the depth and extent of anger against the UPA government.”

Meanwhile, a day after Milind Deora told The Indian Express that Rahul’s advisers did not have their “ears to the ground” and those with “no electoral experience” were “calling the shots”, former MP and AICC secretary Priya Dutt, who met Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday, also talked of the party’s “disconnect” with the people. “It is important for elected people to become a part of the process of communication to the leadership,” she said.

Senior party leader Satyavrat Chaturvedi said he hoped an “honest and ruthless introspection” is carried out to rectify the problems. “I wish an honest and ruthless introspection goes on… I sincerely hope that we are able to identify mistakes and we have to correct them. Responsibility must accompany accountablity,” he said, adding that a “large portion of what he (Deora) said is correct”.

Sticking to his stand, Deora tweeted on Thursday, “My comments are out of emotions of deep loyalty to the party, pain of our performance & a sincere desire to see us bounce back. Nothing more.” In another tweet he said, “Field party work & electoral battles are key to comprehend ground realities. This should form the basis for leadership posts in Congress.”
Team Rahul, however, called the attack “unfair” and sought to draw a clear line between the UPA government and Congress, claiming it was the anger against the former that led to the party’s rout.

“An appeal to vote for the UPA government for a third time was rejected. There was anger against the government, rightly or wrongly, for a number of issues like price rise and corruption scams. We were in deep trouble and some of the things the government had done caused pain to people. What Mr Gandhi’s intervention did was to arrest the loss of vote share,” said the senior aide, pointing out that Rahul was not a part of the government.

Stating that Rahul fought a “heroic battle”, the aide, known to be one of his speech writers, said the party ran “a very good campaign” and its experiments with primaries, open consultation process for manifesto and social media worked well.
He said the criticism that the party campaign could not connect with the middle and upper middle class was unfounded since the party fared worse in states with a larger population of poor people. “The Congress does not know how to connect with the poor people anymore and we need to correct that,” he said.

Claiming that the “right wing” of the party had “failed”, the aide said it was time to move back from “Rao to Nehru”, referring to former PM  Narasimha Rao, who initiated economic reforms in 1991, and former PM Jawaharlal Nehru, a socialist.

He said the Congress’s future strategy should be to “go back to the basics of democracy, civil rights and secularism” and “democratise the party further”. “We have to see how to give a voice to the ordinary worker, but instead of that, some party leaders are demanding a bigger role for themselves,” he said.

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