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'Come off Twitter': Heavy Congress defeat in polls sparks internal calls for introspection

In West Bengal, the Congress was literally whitewashed from erstwhile strongholds

Congress flag Representational image | Sanjay Ahlawat

The resounding defeat that the Congress faced in the recent assembly polls held across the country has sparked calls within the party for introspection and operational change. The party had faced heavy defeats in West Bengal, Assam and Kerala. The highest-profile leader to come out with an open statement was Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, who led the party in West Bengal. In an interview to The Indian Express, Chowdhury said that the TMC raised that he had been left high and dry in polls, without the support of the AICC, and that after two rallies, Rahul Gandhi stopped coming to West Bengal because of the coronavirus situation. "If the Congress is able to put forth its point more vigorously and not confine itself to Twitter or WhatsApp, but hit the streets in support of common people....otherwise [another] opportunity also will be lost. We were left to fend for ourselves," he said, reported the publication.

There is a reason for Chowdhury's ire. In West Bengal, the Congress was literally whitewashed from its longtime strongholds of Murshidabad and Malda districts. The Congress, which had held its sway in these two Muslim-majority districts during the left front rule of 34 years and the following 10 years of the TMC's reign since 2011, has not been able to open its account in this election. Murshidabad is considered the pocket borough of Chowdhury, while Malda was at one point of time synonymous with late Congress stalwart ABA Ghani Khan Chowdhury. Of the total 32 constituencies in Murshidabad and Malda districts that went to polls, the TMC emerged victorious in 26 while the saffron party bagged the remaining six. Elections to two seats in Murshidabad have been countermanded owing to the death of candidates. In the 2016 elections, the Congress had won 14 of the 20 seats in Murshidabad and seven out of 12 assembly constituencies in Malda.

Tweeted suspended Congress leader Sanjay Jha: "If Congress was a corporate, by now the CEO and the entire board would have voluntarily submitted their resignations. The shareholders would happily accept it. A new CEO and team would be appointed. That’s life. It’s no big deal. Performance alone matters. Change is good."

Times of India quoted party spokesperson Ragini Nayak as saying: "If we [Congress] continue to find our happiness in the defeat of the BJP, how will we introspect on our defeat?"

In Assam, the Congress had said it will form a "high-powered" committee to analyse defeat of the opposition's grand alliance and will give suggestions to address the shortcomings. Addressing a joint press conference by the alliance members, the opposition grouping said the regional front of Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) and Raijor Dal cost them around 10 seats in Upper Assam, which gave a decisive mandate in favour of the NDA. The Congress-led alliance has bagged 50 seats out of 126, while the BJP-headed ruling front got 75. One seat went to Raijor Dal, which contested as Independent.

"We will form a high-powered committee in consultation with the Grand Alliance. This will evaluate the reasons for our defeat. It will give suggestions on how to improve the things," All India Congress Committee national general secretary Jitendra Singh said. The in-charge of Assam Congress alleged that the Election Commission was "misused" by the BJP and many irregularities were noticed such as unexplained movement of EVMs at several places. "The people and political parties must have trust on the Election Commission. We will definitely going to question them and take response from the EC," Singh said. Taking the responsibility of the defeat, the Congress leader congratulated Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal and said that the grand alliance will play the role of a responsible and strong opposition.

-Inputs from PTI

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