Very very disappointing: Sonia

Very very disappointing: Sonia

Very very disappointing: Sonia

Routed in the Assembly elections in three states and Delhi, the Congress on Sunday accepted the verdict with humility and announced a massive transformation exercise that includes reaching out to the voters more aggressively.

The 127-year-old “grand old party” declared that it would match the footsteps of Arvind Kejriwal’s one-year-old Aam Aadmi Party, of which it had been dismissive in the campaign for the Delhi assembly elections.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi, her son and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi stepped out for a brief interaction with the hordes of media persons gathered on the lawns at AICC headquarters at 24 Akbar Road. They acknowledged that the verdict was a wake-up call for the party ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

“Obviously people are unhappy; otherwise they would not have given such results. We are very disappointed with the results and need to do deep introspection,” Sonia Gandhi said with Rahul standing behind her.

“The people have given us a message which has reached not only our mind but also our heart,” Rahul said and asserted that the Congress “has the ability to transform” itself and stand up to the expectations of the people.

He sidestepped questions on whether he considered the Congress rout in the elections as his failure. “It is up to you to decide,” Rahul said.

Acknowledging shortcomings in the Congress campaign, Sonia Gandhi said there was a need to look into the way the party took its message to the people. “Also, we have to look at the way our own party is equipped or not so equipped in running an election.”

In his election rallies across the five states, Rahul had been talking about involving the common man in party and fielding candidates from among them in the elections to the state assemblies and Parliament. On Sunday, Rahul admitted that Kejriwal’s fledgling AAP outperformed the Congress on this count.

“We need to move to a new paradigm and give serious space to common masses. The AAP’s victory in Delhi forces us to think in a way different from the traditional way major parties have been doing politics,” he said.

“I think the AAP had involved a lot of people which the traditional parties failed to do. We are going to learn from that.... We are going to involve them in a way you cannot imagine,” Rahul said promising to aggressively pursue the process of transforming the Congress.

Rahul said he had been talking of the need to empower the common man at internal deliberations of the party. “I am going to make this a central issue,” he said.

The Congress leadership also refrained from attacking arch rival Narendra Modi, whom the Gandhis had targeted while on the campaign trail. “Mr Modi is the leader of the BJP; he is pushing the perspective and ideology of his party. Our job is to push our perspective and ideology. What the BJP is doing is its concern,” Rahul said.

The Congress president appeared to fumble while taking questions on projecting Rahul as the party’s prime ministerial candidate.

“We will make a statement. The party has to decide. The party will decide at an opportune time,” she said.

Asked whether the Assembly elections would have a bearing on the Lok Sabha elections, Sonia Gandhi said “the general election is quite different”. She contended that voters focus on a personality at the state level, on leaders who are likely to lead them, whereas national issues take prominence in the general election.

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