A day after senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh said that the party needed “major surgery” following repeated setbacks in state elections since the 2014 Lok Sabha drubbing, two former Union ministers, both party veterans, asked the leadership to “fix responsibility” for the sharp slide.
Former Tribal and Panchayati Raj Affairs minister Kishore Chandra Deo and former Law and Petroleum minister M Veerappa Moily told The Indian Express that the time has come for accountability to be fixed for the defeats, the latest being in Assam and Kerala, where the party was voted out of power.
But both leaders blamed those in charge of various states for the debacles, including Singh, with Moily saying that party’s top leadership — president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi — “may not have been given the correct picture by the general secretary concerned”.
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“It’s now time. We have been introspecting for many years. So far, nobody has been made accountable for these results. Those AICC in-charges of states, many of them have developed vested interests. But nobody has been made accountable for the setbacks. After the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and before the 2014 assembly elections, the same people have been continuing,” Deo said.
Asked if he agreed with Congress general secretary Singh that the party is yet to take action on reports submitted by him and others after the Lok Sabha defeat, Deo said, “He himself has not been made accountable for the states that he has been in charge of. The last one was united Andhra Pradesh. Don’t forget the fact that he was in charge of Assam also, at one point in time. Not him alone, but others also who have been in charge. In fact, many of them have been given more responsibilities, given more states to be in charge of.”
Singh is now in charge of the party in Andhra and Telangana.
Moily agreed with Deo that “time has come to fix responsibility”. “It is worrisome that general secretaries, who are responsible for repeated losses in state elections, are continuing in their posts. They are, in fact, being given bigger assignments, where they again are not able to secure a majority for the party. It sends a wrong signal to the rank and file,” Moily said.
However, he said both Sonia and Rahul Gandhi couldn’t be held responsible for the losses.
“How can you blame Soniaji or Rahulji? They may not have been given the correct picture by the general secretary concerned. What can they do then? The role of the state in-charge is very crucial. He or she is the link between the central leadership and the state leadership. They are also expected to apprise the leadership of the shortcomings of the state leadership and suggest remedial measures,” he said.
On Thursday, voicing the unease in the party after the latest setback, Digvijaya Singh had told The Indian Express: “After the Lok Sabha elections, Rahul Gandhi had asked all senior Congress leaders to submit reports on the road ahead for the party and to hold discussions with state leaders. The deadline for submitting the report was February 20, 2015. We all submitted our reports, I also did. It is May 2016 and we are still awaiting action.”
Meanwhile, responding to a question on who should be held responsible for the party’s defeat, Congress spokesperson P C Chacko said Friday that election strategies were decided and worked out by the state units. “We are not saying that the national leadership is not responsible… moral responsibility is on the leadership but still we are saying that we have given the freedom for state units to work out strategies and they did it,” he said.
Responding to Singh’s remarks, he said such “good suggestions” should be made in the Congress Working Committee meeting to be convened soon.