Two days after its humiliating defeat in the Maharashtra assembly polls, central leadership of the Congress on Tuesday began its review of the poll debacle and the party’s future strategy in the state.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday convened one-to-one meetings with some senior state leaders, including a former Maharashtra minister, in Delhi.
Having been relegated to the third slot in the state which it ruled for 15 years, the Congress is planning to rejig the party organisation in Maharashtra, sources said.
Party’s state chief Manikrao Thakre has already resigned from his post, accepting moral responsibility for the debacle. An aggressive mass leader is expected to replace him as the Congress gears up to play the role of the opposition.
The fate of former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, who was the face of the party’s poll campaign, and All India Congress Committee’s Maharashtra in-charge Mohan Prakash is also expected to be sealed following the stock taking exercise.
Several senior Congress leaders, including former Maharashtra CMs Sushilkumar Shinde and Ashok Chavan, have blamed Prithviraj Chavan for the dismal show.
With several candidates complaining that adequate ‘aid’ to contest was not provided, Thakre and Mohan Prakash are also drawing flak.
Another “introspection” meet took place in Mumbai, where the state Congress core committee reviewed the party’s poor show.
Sources confirmed that Maharashtra poll committee chief Narayan Rane, Ashok Chavan, and former minorities’ welfare minister Naseem Khan lashed out at the “party’s poor and ill-coordinated election campaign.”
Besides complaints that ‘aid’ did not reach several candidates, the leaders also complained that the party’s media campaign was extremely poor. A source said that one leader even raised questions over running a Prithviraj Chavan-centric campaign. “It was a miserable campaign. We were never really in a race,” a senior leader present at the meeting told The Indian Express later. The point that party’s star campaigners got tied up in their own constituencies was also raised, he added.
While the Chavan camp is blaming Thakre and Mohan Prakash over complaints that candidates did not receive necessary ‘aid’, others are blaming Chavan for the ‘miserable’ campaign. Both Thakre and Chavan have accepted responsibility for the defeat.
Later, Thakre said, “A decision to sit in opposition has been taken during the meeting.” Sources informed that while the proposal for supporting a Shiv Sena-backed government was briefly discussed, the party later decided against this option.
Thakre also rubbished NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s claim that a state Congress leader had called him with a proposal of supporting a Sena-backed government.
“It is a blatant lie to cover for the loss of face NCP has suffered after offering outside support to BJP, even before election results were out,” a senior Congress leader said, on condition of anonymity.