New Delhi: Television news debates will not feature Congress spokespersons for a month, a move seen as part of the party’s recalibration efforts after its drubbing in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
“Congress has decided to not send spokespersons on television debates for a month,” party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala announced Thursday. “All media channels/editors are requested to not place Congress representatives on their shows.”
The Samajwadi Party, whose alliance with arch-rival Bahujan Samaj Party only yielded 15 of UP’s 80 seats, has taken a similar decision.
The Congress has won just 52 of 543 Lok Sabha seats this election, eight more than its 2014 tally but still short of staking claim to the Leader of Opposition position.
Party president Rahul Gandhi has since offered to resign, but the Congress Working Committee has rejected the offer and authorised him to restructure the party.
According to a source, “reining in” party spokespersons is part of the restructuring.
A senior Congress leader told ThePrint that the brass was upset about the fact that a number of spokespersons were either ill-informed about the party’s position on a number of issues or ended up portraying the party in bad light.
“Not only this, many gave their opinions on controversial issues that the party had a clear strategy of not commenting on,” the leader added.
Gandhi ‘adamant on resignation’
The party is also likely to go for a major reshuffle that may see many state unit chiefs replaced.
Meanwhile, sources said Gandhi was still adamant on stepping down as president despite veteran leaders participating in demonstrations to persuade him against it.
The 2019 elections have landed a bigger blow to the opposition than the 2014 polls, which had seen the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) form India’s first majority government in 30 years.
Led by Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, the BJP has won 303 seats of its own, with National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partners pitching in another 50 to give the coalition another brute majority.
Amid the introspection triggered in many parties as a result, SP president Akhilesh Yadav had last week barred all party spokespersons from appearing on television debates with immediate effect.
Party sources had told ThePrint that the action was taken because the spokespersons were seen to have failed to effectively articulate the SP’s vision.