New Delhi: Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Friday described the party’s performance in last month’s Assembly elections as “very disappointing” and added that it was “unexpectedly so”.
Mrs Gandhi said the CWC (Congress Working Committee) – the party’s highest decision-making body – would meet soon to review the results. “… but it goes without saying that we, as a party collective, must draw appropriate lessons from this setback in a spirit of humility,” she said.
“Unfortunately, our own performance in all the states was very disappointing and if I may say, unexpectedly so. The CWC is meeting shortly to review results…” she said at a virtual meet of the Congress Parliamentary Party, as she congratulated Mamata Banerjee and MK Stalin for their wins.
The Congress struggled to appeal to voters in this round of Assembly elections.
In Bengal, where the party joined hands with the Left, it was shut out and the alliance was decimated. By contrast the Trinamool swept to victory with 213 seats to the BJP’s 77.
In Assam – widely seen as a Congress stronghold until it was breached in 2016 – the party did marginally better, winning 29 of 95 seats it contested. But the opposition alliance failed to challenge the BJP, winning just 50 seats to the ruling party’s 75.
In Kerala, the Congress at least held its ground, losing just one seat from 2016 to finish with 41. The Left front, however, registered a commanding win by claiming 99 seats. The BJP won zero seats.
In Tamil Nadu, the party was part of the winning DMK-led alliance and performed relatively better, winning 18 of 25 allocated seats. It, however, failed to return to power in Puducherry – where its government crashed days before polling – after the NR Congress-BJP pairing won 16 of 30 seats.
These results come after a poor performance in Bihar, where elections were held in October-November. The party allied with the Tejashwi Yadav’s RJD, but won just 19 of 70 seats it contested.
Over the past year several senior Congress leaders have called for introspection over continuing poor performances in elections, including veterans like Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma and Kapil Sibal.
In August, 23 of them wrote to Mrs Gandhi to call for “full time” and visible” leadership to take the party forward, triggering a row that split the party down the middle.