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Published On: Sat, Dec 30th, 2017

The Congress has been defeated only by the Congress

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rahul-gandhi-congress-himachalSHIMLA : Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who visited Himachal Pradesh for the first time on Friday after taking charge of the party, said internal bickering had led to defeat and poor performance in the recent Assembly polls

Unlike Gujarat, where the party was united and put up a good performance, it was badly divided in the State, Mr. Gandhi said. The Congress has been defeated only by the Congress, he said, hinting at the role of the factions led by former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and PCC president Sukhwinder Singh. “We could have won had we fought as one,” he said. The party got only 21 seats of 68 in the Assembly.

The Congress president warned that those who had worked against the party would not be spared, be it a Minister or somebody else. Some of the Ministers and senior leaders of the party had dissociated themselves with the masses when the party was in power, he said, and claimed that he had such reports with him.
Mr. Gandhi who addressed a meeting of all candidates — both winners and losers — said everybody should exert and protest at least the wrong policies of the State and Centre. He later addressed a larger gathering including district and block presidents, and frontal organisational leaders of the party.

Party workers in their feedback said along with massive factionalism in the party they could not match the resources of the BJP during the campaign. Some candidates also blamed defective EVMs.
The meeting was also attended by the high command observers and State party in-charge Sushil Kumar Shinde and Ranjit Ranjan. Mr. Gandhi repeatedly appealed to all the leaders to go amongst the general public and make them understand their ideology and logic.
Mr. Gandhi also condemned AICC secretary Asha Kumari, who allegedly slapped a woman police constable on duty. Mr. Gandhi said: “We are Gandhians and have no place for anger and aggression in our conduct and behaviour.”Terming it unfortunate and against Congress culture, he said: “It should not have happened.”
Police have registered a case under Sections 353 and 332 of the IPC against the Congress MLA, following a complaint by constable Lajwanti.In presence of former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, and some of the cabinet ministers—who also lost the polls, beside PCC president Sukhwinder Sukhu, Gandhi said, “Arrogance of people in power, and their disconnection with the masses led to the party’s defeat.”

The Congress president was not convinced with the explanation of some leaders on the shortcoming of the party’s campaign to match BJP’s resources, and cut them short mid-way their speeches. He admitted that the rebels contesting against the official candidates also queered the party’s pitch.

He made a direct reference to former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who he said, failed to look into short comings of the campaign since he was given the responsibility as party’s Chief Ministerial face.
Dropping a clear signal that he was looking-up to making gains in the Lok Sabha polls, Rahul Gandhi said there were infighting in the party and proper coordination between the organisation and government also marred the chances of the party.
“I am in favour of a single-line leadership and those enjoying clean image ,beside their connect with the masses will get the Lok Sabha tickets,” he announced.
“The excuses like lack of resources are totally unacceptable. The congress was very much in the power in the state. It had to manage its resources for the poll not looking up to the party. The Congress high command can only fund the states where the part is not in power,” he told when former Speaker Jagat Singh Negi raised this issue.
PCC general secretary Harbhajan Singh Bhajji made a direct attack against former Chief Minister for a sabotage. He alleged that Independent candidate against him was vice-Chairman of HPTDC and was drawing support from Virbhadra Singh, who also dropped hints to back CPM candidate at Theog, instead lending support to the congress candidate, perhaps as part of the deal.
Another elected MLA Lakhwinder Rana from Nalagarh also named a Virbhadra Singh loyalist fighting as rebel against him. He alleged that since he (rebel) was also INTUC president and heading HP state Construction workers’ board distributed freebies to the voters.
Former Minister G S Bali, who had lost the poll by 1,000 votes, admitted that some of the promises made in the manifesto like unemployment allowance were not properly implemented .
PCC president Sukhwinder Sukhu also spoke at the meeting, to sum-up on the factors for the party’s defeat while AICC General secretary Sushil Kumar Shinde also attended. In fact, Shinde had earlier visited Shimla and later submitted his report to Rahul Gandhi, which perhaps, gave him clear impression about the defeat.
“We could have won had we fought as one,” Gandhi told the party workers, adding that many Congress leaders had distanced themselves from the masses during the party’s reign in the state. He urged the party members and workers to speak against “wrong policies” of the state and Centre.

Gandhi also condemned the incident involving All India Congress Committee Secretary Asha Kumari, who allegedly slapped a police constable on duty. “We are Gandhians and have no place for anger and aggression in our conduct and behaviour,” Gandhi said.
On December 18, the Bharatiya Janata Party won 44 out of 68 seats of the Himachal Pradesh Assembly.

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