Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur)

At Cong poll loss review meeting, call for state units’ overhaul echoes

- HT Correspond­ent

NEW DELHI: The Congress panel reviewing the party’s performanc­e in recent assembly polls has, in the course of its meetings, encountere­d demands for sweeping changes in the party’s state leadership in Kerala, Assam and Puducherry, two members of the panel said on condition of anonymity.

In all three, the local leaders also cited Covid as a major factor that restricted the party’s political activities for the past year and claimed that this had a fallout in the electoral prospects of the Congress.

The five-member panel, led by former Maharashtr­a chief minister Ashok Chavan, met the rank and file of the Congress units as well as the top leaders in these three regions. The Congress failed to win in Assam, Puducherry and Kerala, and drew a blank in West Bengal. In Tamil Nadu, it is part of the ruling alliance, courtesy its partnershi­p with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. The Congress was the incumbent in Puducherry and its failure to win Kerala broke a 24-year trend where the Congress-led and the Communist Party-led groupings alternate in power. The latter was the incumbent.

The panel has submitted its report on Assam, Kerala and Puducherry to party chief Sonia

Gandhi while the Bengal report is still being prepared. The panel has made several recommenda­tions to strengthen the organisati­on. “In all the three regions, the major demand was to change the current party organizati­on and bring in new faces. Leaders accused each other and infighting marred several interactio­ns,” said a member of the panel. who asked not to be named.

In the last CWC meeting, where the general secretarie­s in charge of states were asked to report on the poll results, they too, pointed to factional feuds in states such as Assam and Kerala as one reason for the party’s poor performanc­e.

The other reason highlighte­d by many leaders was that the Covid situation forced them to abandon many programmes in the run up to the elections. “Political agitations against the incumbent government, and party’s outreach to the voters was severely curtailed and the long spell of inaction of the Opposition helped the ruling party that was visible through relief measures and Covid-related activities,” said another Congress leader .

The panel spoke to 20-25 leaders in Puducherry and Kerala. In Assam, the panel interacted with more than 40 Congress leaders, according to a party functionar­y.

The panel also comprises Salman Khurshid, Jothi Mani, Manish Tewari and Vincent H Pala.

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