Clueless Congress throws its hands up in the air

FP

The Congress Thursday sought to put up a brave face saying the Gujarat results were "expected", but there was deep disappointment over losing its sixth Assembly election in a row in the state.

While some heads are set to roll, the fact that Gujarat is the latest addition to the list of states where the party has not been in power for about two decades or more is set to dominate the party's Chintan Baithak due in Jaipur in the third week of January.

The Congress lost power in Gujarat in 1995, in Uttar Pradesh in 1989, in Bihar in 1990, and in Tripura in 1993. It has been out of power in West Bengal for more than three decades barring the brief stint as the TMC's junior ally. In Tamil Nadu, it has not come to power on its own for well over four decades.

Alarmingly for the party, as the Gujarat results showed, its leadership seems clueless about what it needs to do to stop being pushed to the political margins in such states.

The Congress had sought to put its best foot forward in Gujarat this time, offering doles, maintaining silence about the post-Godhra riots to avoid polarisation on communal lines, giving limited exposure to Rahul Gandhi to deny Modi the opportunity to turn it into a Rahul-versus-Modi election, keeping the focus of the campaign on development or the lack of it, denying tickets to those who had lost last two consecutive elections, among others.

But nothing worked.

"What has also come as a setback is that people like (PCC chief) Arjun Modhvadia, (CLP leader) Shaktisinh Gohil and the late Chimanbhai Patel's son Siddharth Patel, who were emerging as the party's faces, lost. Frankly, we don't know what to do next. Our leadership should discuss not just Gujarat but other states as well," a senior Congress leader said.

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