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Speaking out for Cong’s first family, loyalist Patel sets tone for CWC meet
Ahead of Monday’s Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting that is likely to witness a veiled attack on party vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s style of functioning and a frontal one on his close aides for the way they caused the party’s decimation in the Lok Sabha elections, Ahmed Patel, political secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, on Sunday sought to preempt any direct or indirect attack on the family, saying that “all, including myself” were responsible for the party’s debacle.
“How can you blame any individual for this result? It is the collective responsibility of both the party and the government. All, including myself, are responsible for the party’s loss,” Patel told The Indian Express when asked about party leaders’ resentment at the way Rahul ran the election campaign.
Patel’s remarks assume significance given that many senior leaders are learnt to be waiting for the CWC meeting to vent their anger and frustration with the way Team Rahul has run the party since he took over as vice-president in January last year. Anil Shastri, special invitee to the CWC, is learnt to have even shot off a letter to Rahul pointing out the flaws in the campaign strategy formulated and executed by his team.
Many senior leaders like Sushil Kumar Shinde sought to play it safe saying they would speak after the CWC meeting. “I have my views but I will express them later,” said Salman Khurshid.
According to party sources, there are already rumblings in Rahul’s team, with his aides trying to blame each other. While party sources targeted Rahul’s close aide Kanishka Singh for “misleading” him — about the party’s prospects and the poll strategy in terms of selection of candidates, campaign plan and deployment of resources — and blocking party leaders’ “access” to the Congress vice-president, another section targeted Mohan Gopal, Director of the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Contemporary Studies, who was reported to be calling the shots in the team.
“Remember that Mohan Gopal was the NSUI president in 1977 and yet Rahul chose him as his key advisor,” said a Congress leader, adding that Gopal had “totally replaced” Jairam Ramesh who did not play much role in election management, including in planning Rahul’s rallies and speeches, “unlike in 2004 and 2009 elections”.
Some CWC members also expressed disagreement with the party leadership’s decision to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh, which resulted in the party being routed from a state in which it had won 33 seats in 2009. Sources said many senior leaders including A K Antony and Digvijaya Singh had opposed the creation of Telangana, but Sonia had continued…