New Delhi: The Congress resurgence in Haryana and the party’s marginal gains in Maharashtra have taken even its top leadership by surprise. But one man is conspicuous by his silence — Rahul Gandhi.
The former Congress president has not commented on the election results yet, although his sister and Uttar Pradesh (east) in-charge Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, has spoken about it.
Gandhi, who is prolific and active on Twitter, is yet to post anything on the micro-blogging site. He tweeted last on 23 October in which he criticised the Modi government’s decision to allow the merger of the ailing state-run telecom majors, BSNL and MTNL.
The Congress, which is riddled with factionalism and plagued by defections, defied expectations in Haryana, where it won 31 seats — a gain of 16 from its 2014 tally. In Maharashtra, the party won 44 seats.
Sources told ThePrint that Gandhi is still in Delhi.
“What will he say about the elections?” said a Congress leader, who didn’t wish to be named. “After having worked to keep the alliance on shaky ground in Maharashtra and attempting to sideline (Bhupinder) Hooda in Haryana, he has no high moral ground to take anymore.”
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Gandhi kept low profile even before elections
Gandhi also kept a low profile before the assembly elections, addressing only a handful of public meetings in Maharashtra and Haryana.
In Maharashtra, Gandhi did not share stage with Congress ally Sharad Pawar, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief, or any member of his family. That prompted senior NCP leader Majid Memon to lash out at the Congress, saying the party would be solely responsible if the BJP-Shiv Sena combine returned to power.
“Congress leaders didn’t work hard enough during the campaign in Maharashtra. And if we don’t get success, then the Congress will be responsible,” he had said a day before the results.
The NCP was quick to distance itself from Memon’s statements and Pawar defended the Congress, saying the party was working hard on the ground.
The NCP chief Thursday even said all the allies “whole-heartedly co-operated with each other”. “The election results show people did not like the arrogance of power,” Pawar said.
Haryana unit was miffed with Gandhi
The Haryana Congress unit was plagued by in-fighting and factionalism. Sources said Gandhi’s team had, in fact, told Hooda that he need not change his schedule to attend public meetings of the former Congress chief.
But Hooda’s team told ThePrint that he was unable to attend the rally since his chopper was denied permission to land at the rally.
Gandhi is also known to be upset over the removal of Ashok Tanwar as the Haryana Congress chief.
The Haryana unit didn’t want Tanwar. Sources said the party’s state unit felt that if Gandhi had replaced Tanwar much before the elections, then it would have won a majority.
“If we had appointed Hooda earlier, then we may have just won the election,” said a Haryana Congress leader, who did not wish to be named. “Rahul kept Tanwar for a long time, who clearly was unable to perform. That was a complete failure on his part.”
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To seek to marginalise former CM Hooda reflects poor political judgment. Captain Amarinder Singh was declared the CM candidate with barely days to spare. Smt Sonia Gandhi chose the people she trusted – Ahmed Patel for party management, Dr Singh to head the government – with much better judgment. She erred only in choosing her successor.
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