Last Updated: Saturday, May 17, 2014, 00:40
Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: As the 2014 Lok Sabha election results are out and Congress has been routed by Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party, Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia on Friday defended party president Rahul Gandhi saying that he worked 'extremely hard'.
“The party needs to make the state leadership strong. The Congress needs to have strong grassroot leaders and building leadership takes time,” Scindia said to an English news Channel.
The Congress leader added, “Rahul has worked extremely hard. He will go back to working as he has worked in the couple of years.”
The Congress today touched its lowest ever tally in a General Election raising questions about Rahul Gandhi's leadership abilities, the fading charisma of the Nehru-Gandhi family and its future role in Indian politics.
The party has a tough road ahead with many of its biggies biting the dust and its strongholds under siege.
The results of the Lok Sabha elections came as a rude shock to the party as it was poised not to cross even the 50 seat mark. The defeat came at the hands of Narendra Modi, the leader most unpalatable to the Congress leadership.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi today took responsibility for the party's worst drubbing in the national election, but did not give credit to Narendra Modi for the BJP victory.
Making a short statement to the media - without entertaining any questions - at the party headquarters after it became clear that party would be relegated to around 50 seats, Sonia Gandhi said: "The Congress faced its rivals in the elections on the basis of policies and principles. Despite that we failed to get the majority we had thought we would get."
However, Jyotiraditya Scindia won Guna Lok Sabha seat by a margin of over 1.2 lakh votes.
Scindia, Minister of State for Power, defeated BJP's Jaibhansingh Pawaiya.
Over party's poor show in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Scindia said, “There are many things that went wrong on part of the Congress. We had to admit that things went wrong for the Congress, we need to introspect it."
When asked that voices are likely to be raised in the coming days in the Congress for a bigger role for Priyanka Gandhi, considered more charismatic than Rahul, Scindia said, “Changing the leadership is not the solution to the party's leadership. Every party has ups and downs."
Congress will face elections in party-ruled Haryana and Maharashtra in the coming months and has little time to put its act together.
Among Congress leaders who lost the election were Kapil Sibal, Salman Khurshid, Ajay Maken, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Pawan Kumar Bansal and Ambika Soni.
Congress general secretary Shakeel Ahmed said that there have been demands from different parts of the country for Priyanka Gandhi to expand her role beyond Amethi and Rae Bareli but it was for her to take a decision.
He also said that Rahul Gandhi "will remain our leader" and there would be no change in the hierarchy in the Congress.
Ahmed said that responsibility for success or failure "was collective."
"He (Rahul Gandhi) worked very hard. There were other factors (for defeat)," he added.
He further said that the party failed to effectively communicate the achievements of the UPA government and rebut opposition criticism of its alleged failures.
Former union minister Ashwani Kumar, MP, said the party will "go in for very serious introspection" as the results had "jolted us" and "were a wake up call."
"Responsibility will have to be fixed," Kumar said.
He admitted that Modi ran a very successful campaign and "succeeded in selling hope for a better future."
"We have to examine and (there is) no doubt Congress leadership will do so. Too much is at stake," he said and added that there was a threat of unipolarity in the country's politics.
Asked about the role of Rahul Gandhi, Kumar said "he is today our leader of the future."
Meanwhile, the BJP and its allies said that the results were also a rejection of "dynastic politics" of the Congress.
"The people of India have put the last nail in the coffin of royalty of the Congress party," Shiromani Akali Dal MP Naresh Gujral said.
First Published: Friday, May 16, 2014, 22:48