Mumbai/New Delhi: After a staggering defeat in the national election, the Congress is battling the blame-game. Congress leaders Milind Deora and Priya Dutt today appeared to criticise the party leadership.
"Field party work & electoral battles are key to comprehend ground realities. This should form the basis for leadership posts in Congress," Mr Deora tweeted on a day a newspaper report quoted him as saying that "those with no electoral experience" were calling the shots in the party and those taking advice should also bear responsibility.
"My comments are out of emotions of deep loyalty to the party, pain of our performance & a sincere desire to see us bounce back. Nothing more," he added. His comments were seen as a critique of Rahul Gandhi, who led the party's national election campaign, and his advisers.
Mr Deora, a former union minister who lost his seat in Maharashtra, is the first Congress leader to go public with his criticism.
Two-time MP Priya Dutt, who also lost the polls, said cautiously, "I would not really like to talk about Milind's comments but there is disconnect between people on the ground and top leaders. The top leadership should take opinion from a wide range of people and MPs."
Ms Dutt met party president Sonia Gandhi in Delhi today.
Led by Narendra Modi, the BJP won a massive victory in the polls, winning 282 seats on its own and 336 with its allies. (BJP + 29 Parties = National Democratic Alliance)
The Congress suffered its worst electoral debacle, winning just 44 seats across India. The party did not win a single seat in 10 states and was reduced to single digits in others. (A Political Dynasty in India and a Crippling Defeat)
After the verdict, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul both accepted responsibility and offered to resign but leaders in the party's highest decision-making body rejected it, in what critics called scripted drama. (Congress Unchanged. Gandhis' Offer to Resign Rejected.)
Responding to Mr Deora's comments, Congress leader Satyavrat Chaturvedi said, "After a win, this question is not applicable. Only after loss, the question is apt. Yesterday those who used to praise Rahul Gandhi, now they are blaming him. Rahul has taken full responsibility for the results."