NEW DELHI: The post-Bihar voices in Congress grew louder on Wednesday with senior member P Chidambaram joining the ranks of functionaries critical of the party’s showing in the recent state elections and bypolls in other states.
“I’m more worried about the bypoll results in Gujarat, MP, UP and Karnataka. These results show that the party either has no organisational presence on the ground or has been weakened considerably,” he was quoted by reports as saying.
The remark is significant as it echoes the dissident group which, after a brief lull following the controversy over its letter in August, has seized upon the recent poll debacle to revive its demand that the leadership acknowledge that the party is in decline and consult seniors – an implied criticism of party functionaries close to Rahul Gandhi – on the path ahead. The G23 members have held discussions after Bihar results on the next course of action. The bloc may ask for a special session of a party committee like CWC to discuss the organisational drift. “When will it explode is the issue now,” said an MP.
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Congress’s leader in Lok Sabha, took on the critics by saying, “If some leaders think Congress is not the right party for them, then they may set up a new party or can join any other party that they think is progressive and according to their interest. But they should not indulge in such embarrassing activities since it can erode the credibility of Congress.”
With the process for election of the AICC president in motion, some worry that dissidents may even question the central election authority charged with the process and press that their demands like elections to the CWC be conceded upfront.
In his comments, Chidambaram said: “In Bihar, RJD-Congress had a chance of winning. Why we lost despite being so close to victory is something that needs comprehensive review. Remember, not long ago Congress had won Rajasthan, MP, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.” He stressed the need for organisational strength on the ground.
The veteran echoed the view expressed by some RJD members in saying that Congress contested more seats than its capacity in Bihar.
Besides organisational problems, Congress on Tuesday even saw a clash within on RCEP, the mega trade deal. While attacking the Modi government for opting out of RCEP, Anand Sharma contradicted the stance taken by the Congress brass that the deal will hurt India’s interests. Congress had launched a vocal campaign against RCEP last year. Sharma’s view clashed with that of ex-minister Jairam Ramesh who called the opting out as vindication of Congress’s stance.