Accepting responsibility for the crushing defeat in the recently concluded Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, state Congress president Raj Babbar offered to resign from his post. “I take responsibility for party’s defeat and have offered to resign from my post,” news agency PTI quoted him as saying. Babbar was appointed as the state chief just before the state went to polls. He replaced Nirmal Khatri in 2016.
Babbar also echoed Rahul Gandhi on the need for making structural changes to strengthen the party but defended the Congress Vice President, saying leadership is not changed “for losses in one or two elections”.
To a question why Gandhi or senior party leaders like Ghulam Nabi Azad were not taking responsibility for the defeat, the Rajya Sabha member said such issues are to be discussed “internally at party level.” “Our national leaders worked hard in the five states which went to polls including UP. We failed to win Uttar Pradesh,” Babbar said.
“You don’t change party leadership for losses in one or two elections. The leadership is ideology. They make teams. Our team failed there (in UP),” he said.
Babbar, who was made the party chief ahead of UP assembly polls, alleged that the BJP employed all means to win elections including cheating and use of muscle and money power. He also sought to defend Gandhi, saying the Congress Vice President had put in everything but he as state unit chief takes the entire responsibility for failing to steer the party to victory.
Babbar is the first to offer his resignation over the party’s performance in the assembly polls. His statement comes a day after demands were raised within the party for fixing of accountability and for initiating structural changes, which Gandhi himself called for.
Earlier, party general secretary incharge of Odisha B K Hariprasad resigned taking full responsibility for the Congress party’s poll debacle in Odisha panchayat elections.
Babbar also accused the BJP of using money and muscle power to form governments in Goa and Manipur. “This is happening at a time when it (BJP) has not appointed chief ministers in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh despite getting majority. It shows how desperate it is to grab power,” he alleged.
Out of the 105 seats it contested in alliance with the Samajwadi Party, the Congress managed to win only in seven constituencies. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi could stop the grand old party’s decline in the state despite holding joint roadshows and rallies with former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav. The party’s vote-share has also considerably eroded in this election. In the 2012 assembly polls, it managed to win just 28 seats.
(With inputs from PTI)