Sonia silent on Rahul`s PM prospects, calls for introspection

After her party`s stunning defeat in all four major states, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi has called for deep introspection to determine the causes of party`s debacle in the recently concluded assembly polls.

Zee Media Bureau/Ritesh K Srivastava

New Delhi: After her party`s stunning defeat in all four major states, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi has called for deep introspection to determine the causes of party`s debacle in the recently concluded assembly polls.

Asking the party leaders to study "the reasons for Congress` defeat", Sonia Gandhi told the media that she was "very, very disappointed" with the election results.

"This result calls for deep introspection," she said. "We have to understand to look at the many reasons for this defeat. We have to look into the way we did not take our message to the people.

"Also, we have to look at our own party if it is well equipped in running an election (campaign)." Sonia admitted "many people were obviously unhappy (with the Congress). Otherwise there would not have been such results".

She said rising prices of essential commodities was an issue with the electorate. "We will introspect seriously and we will take all necessary action ... We will rectify our mistakes."

Sonia, however, expressed confidence the results of assembly polls will not have a bearing on the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. "General elections are quite different. People in state elections do focus on personality at the state level, at leaders who are likely to lead them," she said.

However, in national elections, "people look at the person who is likely to guide them and govern them at the national level", the Congress chief said.
When asked whether the Congress party would name its prime ministerial candidate against Bharatiya Janata Party`s Narendra Modi, Sonia said, "people need not worry as, at an opportune time, the name of the prime ministerial candidate will be announced".

Initially, she appeared reluctant to give an answer when asked whether party vice president Rahul Gandhi would be named as the prime ministerial candidate. "We will make a statement. The party has to decide. The party will decide at the opportune time," she said.

Sonia’s remarks suggest that the crushing defeat in assembly elections could force the Congress to rework its strategy of not disclosing its prime ministerial candidate.

Though the party had fought the 2004 general elections under her leadership, Sonia declined the post and instead named Manmohan Singh for the top post.

In 2009, she had made it abundantly clear that Singh would continue to be the Prime Minister if the Congress-led UPA was voted back to power.

With the BJP having already named Modi as its candidate, pressure is mounting on the Congress to bring clarity on the leadership issue ahead of the next year’s Lok Sabha elections.