Even as Congress gropes in the dark to find answers for its worst electoral defeat, dissenting voices against party Vice-President Rahul Gandhi are growing louder. The latest to join the bandwagon is senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh. Digvijaya, who was once said to be the mentor of Rahul, said that the Gandhi scion is, by temperament not a ruling person.
Here is a look at the Congress leaders who openly criticised Rahul after the disastrous performance in the elections.
Digvijaya Singh: The Congress veteran said Rahul should have taken up the responsibility of leading the party in Lok Sabha. “By temperament, woh sattadhaari vyakti nahin hain. Woh by temperament aisa vyakti hai jo anyaya ke khilaf ladna chaahta hai (he is not a ruling person by temperament…by temperament he is a person who wants to fight injustice),” Singh’s comments were seen as his unhappiness over Rahul’s reluctance to take up the responsibility of leading the Congress in the Lok Sabha.
A K Antony: Veteran Congress leader and former defence minister A K Antony sparked furore after he said his party’s apparent proximity to minority communities had led people to doubt its secularism. “Some sections of society have an impression that the party is inclined to certain communities or organisations. People have doubt whether that policy is being implemented or not,” Antony had said in Thiruvananthapuram. “This doubt is created by the party’s proximity towards minority communities, and such a situation would open the door for the entry of communal forces into Kerala,” Antony said. Antony’s statement held significance as he has been known for his loyality to the Nehru-Gandhi family, and has been entrusted by Sonia Gandhi with the task of carrying out an analysis of the Congress’s massive election defeat.
Capt Amarinder Singh: Congress leader Capt Amarinder Singh too felt that Rahul Gandhi should have been the leader of Opposition. “I have been a leader of Opposition as well as a CM; you are alone as the leader of Opposition. As the CM you have a whole team to give you information. Here you have to collect everything yourself. He would have learned more had he taken up this role,” Singh had told Indian Express during the Idea Exchange.
Milind Deora: In the first open criticism after Congress’ crushing electoral defeat, former union minister Milind Deora criticised Rahul Gandhi and his team of advisers, saying that “they did not have their ears to the ground and those with “no electoral experience” were “calling the shots”. “The question is whether the set of advisers had their ears to the ground… There were strong murmurs in the party that people who are calling the shots are people with no electoral experience… no stature, standing, respect and credibility in the party. They were in charge of important departments and held key positions. This whole group of people did not listen to what party cadres and MPs were saying. They did not allow diverse opinion to come through… and shut out a lot of people. Many of us knew the party has become unresponsive. Had the system been more open and accomodative and had the diverse opinions been openly heard, corrective measures could have been taken,” he said.
T H Mustafa: Against the backdrop of debacle in Lok Sabha polls, former Kerala minister TH Mustafa lashed out at Rahul Gandhi, saying “acting like a joker” would not help in elections. Mustafa, who was a minister in the K Karunakaran Ministry in the early 1990s, had told a news conference in Kochi that “he (Rahul) should resign from the party. He should not continue. If he doesn’t resign voluntarily, he should be removed. He acted like a joker(during the poll campaign)…” Mustafa was later suspended over his statement.
K V Thomas: Former food minister and Congress leader K V Thomas cited Priyanka Gandhi Vadra as the solution to the leadership crisis as he made a public demand that she join the party as “she had the natural ability’ to connect with the people. “As a congressman, we wish that Priyanka Gandhi should come to the main arena. She should work with mother Sonia Gandhi and brother Rahul Gandhi as a team… “Priyanka is a big fighter. We have seen that in this election,” he said and added: ” there should be internal party elections in the Congress right from the booth-level.”
Shankar Singh Vaghela: Senior Congress leader Shankar Sinh Vaghela too did not shy away from directly blaming Rahul Gandhi for the party’s humiliating defeat in Lok Sabha elections, saying that he did not connect with the masses. Vaghela also said that one should not blame Rahul’s election team as its members were picked up by him.
PC George: Kerala government chief whip P C George too criticised Rahul Gandhi while describing the worst defeat as the “Waterloo of the Congress Party.” “They do not relate to the issues of the people, then how can they give advice?” questioned George.