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Congress in damage control mode

New Delhi, May 15, 2014, dhns: 2:35 IST
Facing the toughest electoral battle in recent times, the Congress was busy defending gaffes by senior leaders on the eve of the counting of votes.

Trouble began when the party failed to communicate the absence of Rahul Gandhi at a dinner hosted by Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday to honour Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for his able leadership over the last 10 years.

The Congress’ communication machinery was jolted into action late on Wednesday night when the media went to town on the “disrespect” shown by Rahul to the prime minister.

Senior Congress leaders swung into action to explain that Rahul had already met Singh on Saturday and conveyed to him that he would not be present at the dinner on Wednesday.

Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah did not miss the opportunity to take a jibe at the Congress. He wondered why the Congress leaders had not conveyed to the media in advance about Rahul’s absence.

“If you knew he (Rahul) was not attending the dinner and he had explained his absence to the PM earlier, put out the statement before the news breaks,” Abdullah said on Twitter.

Barely had the dust settled on this controversy, Congress spokesman Sandeep Dikshit declared that he was set to lose the election from East Delhi constituency. He is a two-term MP from the seat.

Dikshit is contesting against BJP’s Maheish Giri, an Art of Living instructor, and AAP candidate Rajmohan Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi.

Adding to the Congress’ woes, party leader Rashid Alvi suggested that all regional secular parties should come together and elect West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as the leader to keep BJP out of power at the Centre.

“Congress party will never hesitate to form a secular government. I suggest that regional parties should elect Mamata Banerjee, who is secular, competent and honest beyond doubt, as their leader,” Alvi said.

The Congress distanced itself from Alvi’s remarks dubbing it as his personal views.

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