NOTHING succeeds like success and the realisation seems to have dawned on the grand old party of India as the sorry figure it cut in the Lok Sabha elections lies juxtaposed with the BJP’s spectacular showing. Predictably, fissures have come to the fore as stocktaking begins. It all began with party president Rahul Gandhi accepting responsibility for the defeat, volunteering to step down and blaming veterans like Ashok Gehlot, Kamal Nath and P Chidambaram for insisting on tickets for their sons even as he was not inclined to do so. He also pointed out that the Congress had done badly in states where it was in power like Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
The blame game shows no signs of ebbing with Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot blaming his deputy Sachin Pilot for son Vaibhav’s defeat in the Lok Sabha polls. The escalation shows the party president’s observation has gone unheeded even as Gehlot’s son trailed in the Assembly segment represented by his father. In Haryana, knives are out for state party chief Ashok Tanwar with former CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda seeking changes. In Punjab, there is demand for action against the Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu for his ‘friendly’ match comment against Capt Amarinder Singh and the latter alleging that Sidhu was eyeing the CM’s chair. In Maharashtra, senior party leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil has hinted at joining the BJP and the Karnataka state unit has drawn flak for sidelining seniors. Earlier, spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi left her party to join the Shiv Sena.
The Congress view is that since the future role of party president Rahul Gandhi is not clear, nothing can be said about changes in the state units. What the party needs to tell itself is that it has been out of power only for five years after the 10-year tenure of Manmohan Singh. The loss can be disappointing but it is also an opportunity to plug organisational gaps, increase the outreach of party programmes and play the role of a constructive opposition. Public memory is short and the party should bide its time purposefully instead of going into a sulk.