A fortnight after its debilitating defeat in the Lok Sabha elections and amid disquiet in many of its state units, the Congress high command has set in motion an introspection exercise and begun an attempt to silence those who are speaking out.
The central leadership, sources said, has asked many state units to submit detailed reports within a week on what went wrong in each Assembly constituency.
Ever since the defeat, factional feuds have come out in the open in several state units, especially Rajasthan, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Haryana. Avinash Pande, the AICC in charge of Rajasthan, has written to Rajasthan leaders asking all of them to keep the interests of the party above their personal interests and refrain from making comments that can damage the party.
In Rajasthan, those loyal to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot had been indulging in a blame game ever since the party drew a blank in the Lok Sabha polls, months after it stormed to power in the state dislodging the BJP government. On Wednesday, a Rajasthan Congress MLA — Prithviraj Meena — even went to the extent of demanding that Pilot be made the Chief Minister. Pande asked Congress leaders not to give any such statements that give an impression that they are working with a personal agenda.
Sources said that AICC general secretary in charge of organisation K C Venugopal has issued a circular asking all state units to give details of votes polled by the party’s candidates and others in each booth as part of a comprehensive introspection exercise. Pande, for instance, has written to Pilot — who is also the Rajasthan Congress president — to submit a report by June 11 specifying the reasons for the defeat of Congress candidates in each Assembly constituency. Similar directions have gone to many states where the party has performed badly.
The Congress Working Committee, which had met after the election debacle, had authorised Congress president Rahul Gandhi to undertake a complete overhaul and restructuring of the party. The direction is an indication that Rahul, who was said to be firm on stepping down as Congress chief, has finally decided to carry out a detailed post-mortem that would enable him to carry out the restructuring.
AICC general secretary in charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has also started meeting leaders to analyse what went wrong. The Congress could win only one seat from that state, and even Rahul was defeated in Amethi. Priyanka had one round of meetings with AICC secretaries in charge of UP and met some of the leaders. She will now meet the party’s candidates. Sources said she is set to travel to UP in the coming days for a detailed analysis of the results.
Many of the general secretaries are also set to travel to their respective states as part of the introspection exercise.