Congress blames weak party structure for Gujarat loss

Party says good organisational strength helped saffron leaders win

Congress blames weak party structure for Gujarat loss

The Congress on Monday rejoiced at restricting the BJP to double digits in the Gujarat assembly elections where Prime Minister Narendra Modi had put high stakes.

Though party leaders expressed happiness over bringing Modi to his knees in his home state, a number of Congress workers deployed on election duty rued the lack of organisational support in Gujarat where the party has been out of power for 22 years.

"People were ready to vote for us, but we lacked feet on the ground and could only envy the BJP's organisational strength," said a Congress leader from Rajasthan, who was in charge of Mehsana district where Patidaar voters hold sway.

Another leader from Maharashtra, who was tasked to reach out to voters in Surat and adjoining assembly seats, said the results could have been different if Congress had a strong organisational presence in the state.

Top Congress leaders in  Gujarat - Shaktisinh Gohil, Arjun Modhvadia, Tushar Chaudhary and Siddharth Patel had to face defeat. The Congress sought to project their defeat as "personal sacrifice" to further party interests in the state.

"The Congress party accepts the verdict of the people and congratulates the new governments in both the states," Congress President Rahul Gandhi said. The  Congress lost at least two dozen seats with a margin less than 3,000 votes, which the party feels could have tipped the elections in its favour.

The Congress sought solace in the defeat of more than half-a-dozen ministers, including Jainarayan Vyas, who was the face of the BJP government as well as ensuring the victory of its candidate in Unjha, the assembly segment that covers Modi's hometown Vadnagar.

"I completely concede, we need to do far far better. We will reach out to those we could not reach," Randeep Singh Surjewala, in-charge of the AICC Communications Department told reporters here.

Notice to Rahul

The Election Commission's dilemma over acting against Prime Minister Narendra Modi for  reportedly flouting the model  code of conduct during Assembly polls in Gujarat finally led to the  withdrawal of  a notice it served to Congress president Rahul Gandhi for the same.

The EC had served a notice to  Rahul after some TV channels aired his interviews on Wednesday -   just a day before the second phase polling for the election of the Gujarat State Assembly was scheduled to be held. This had prompted the Congress to lodge a  complaint with the EC over violation of the model  code of conduct by the prime minister himself.

The poll panel, however, did not act against the prime minister and rather late at night on Sunday withdrew the notice served to Rahul.

It also ordered setting up a committee to review the model code of conduct and Section 126 of the Representation of India Act, 1951, which was  reportedly flouted  by the Congress president.

"The commission is of the considered view that due to multi-fold expansion of digital and electronic media, the extant Model Code of Conduct, the Section 126 of the R P Act 1951 and other related provisions require revisiting to cater to the requirement and challenges of the present and emerging situations," the EC stated in an order issued late at night on Sunday.

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