Congress feels it is time for new leadership in Gujarat

New Delhi, Dec 23 (IANS) After its third successive defeat in the Gujarat assembly polls, sections of the Congress feel it is time to present a new charismatic leadership in the state if the party wants to mount a viable challenge to the ruling BJP in the state in the parliamentary elections in 2014.

Though the party won most of the seats in places where the top party leadership went to campaign, the defeat should act as a "wake up call", say several in the party who did not wish to be identified for fear of offending party bosses.

The party won five out of the six seats where Congress chief Sonia Gandhi campaigned, six out of seven where party general secretary Rahul Gandhi campaigned and won the lone constituency - Vansda - that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited, party officials pointed out.

But the influence of the central leaders could not compensate for the lack of leadership in the state unit, indicated by the fact that both Gujarat Congress chief Arjun Modhwadia and leader of legislative party Shaktisinh Gohil lost the elections.

The Congress could improve its tally by just two seats - from 59 in 2007 to 61 - against an expected 80-plus seats based on preseumed support from the rural areas that had been allegedly neglected by Chief Minister Narendra Modi's government, sources said.

"The assembly result should act as a wake up call if we have to improve our tally in the 2014 general election," said a Congress leader, who refused to be identified.

"It is a wake up call for the Congress in Gujarat," historian and political analyst Zoya Hasan told IANS.

The key factors behind the party's assembly poll defeat were a weak party organisation, faulty ticket distribution and lack of consultations with old timers, party sources said.

"We have to present a new leadership with a new message," a senior Congress leader, who did not wish to be named, admitted.

Congress sources said the only hope for the party to improve its tally is to start working for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls from now itself by choosing a new leader with a good image and a vision for the state. That will be the challenge for the top leadership when it reviews the party's performance in the assembly elections over the next few weeks and works out its future strategy ahead of the long overdue overhaul of the All India Congress Committee early in January 2013.

The party had identified relevant issues like low social welfare indicators in the rural areas of Gujarat but started very late in taking the message to the masses. Thus, it could not effectively convince the voters, the sources said.

"It seems the Congress has not learnt any lessons in Gujarat...as in the past it starts working on the ground very late," N.Bhaskara Rao, who is the founder chairman of Centre for Media Studies, a communication and research organisation, told IANS.

The Congress chief campaigned in the Jasdan, Keshwat, Mandvi, Sitpur, Dakor and Kalor constituencies. The party lost in Jasdan.

Rahul Gandhi campaigned in Sanand, Jamnagar, Palanpur, Samblaji, Jhalot and Bhuj. The party lost in Bhuj.

A section of Congress leaders said the presence of former chief minister Keshubhai Patel, whose Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) contested the elections, dented the party's vote share.

The Congress tally in the state dropped from 12 seats in 2004 to 11 in 2009 out of a total of 26 Lok Sabha seats from the state.

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

On Now: Rajasthan Royals vs Kings XI Punjab

On Now: Rajasthan Royals vs Kings XI Punjab

GAME 7, SHARJAH—Punjab elect to bowl. More »

Royal test for Kings

Royal test for Kings

Preview — Clash of philosophies between Australia-centric teams More »

Have nothing to prove to anybody — Sehwag

Have nothing to prove to anybody — Sehwag

The Nawab of Najafgarh says a good run in IPL could help his chances of a comeback on India's tour to England in June. More »

Shastri in proposed IPL probe panel

Shastri in proposed IPL probe panel

Some members stressed on the need for proposing names with an "impeccable record and clean image". More »

Duminy steals first win for Delhi

Duminy steals first win for Delhi

Furious fifties by Duminy and Dinesh Karthik end a long losing streak for the Daredevils. More »

Five things England must do to bounce back

Five things England must do to bounce back

England have appointed a new head coach in Peter Moores. More »

AB, Parthiv seal Bangalore's second win

AB, Parthiv seal Bangalore's second win

Royal Challengers overcame a stutter to cruise to the small target they were set by Mumbai Indians. More »

‘Felt like helpless minority’

‘Felt like helpless minority’

Former BCCI treasurer Ajay Shirke says emotions got the better of Srinivasan and he tried to oversimplify things by calling Meiyappan an “enthusiast.” More »

No way back for Pietersen: ECB

No way back for Pietersen: ECB

Kevin Pietersen's hopes of reviving his international career appeared to end Saturday when ECB managing director Paul Downton said there was 'no way back'… More »

Srinivasan can attend BCCI meeting

Srinivasan can attend BCCI meeting

His status as president of TNCA makes him eligible to attend the Working Committee meeting on Sunday. More »

Maxwell carves his parallel universe

Maxwell carves his parallel universe

Glenn Maxwell seems to project an icy disdain when at the crease. Match situations rarely faze him and the bubble in which he plays excludes everyone … More »

The world record that nearly wasn't

The world record that nearly wasn't

Twenty years ago this week, Brian Lara became Test cricket's highest scorer, but he almost didn't make it. More »

Moores gets second stint as coach

Moores gets second stint as coach

In a two-year spell from 2007 to 2009, the 51-year-old Moores led England in seven Test series. More »

Bangladesh senior players to see shrink

Bangladesh senior players to see shrink

Bangladesh's senior players will have three sessions with a psychological skill development coach later this month More »

BCCI is not anybody’s property — Dalmiya

BCCI is not anybody’s property — Dalmiya

Dalmiya feels that Srinivasan’s ‘power hungry’ attitude isn’t helping matters. More »

Tough for bowlers: Saeed Ajmal

Tough for bowlers: Saeed Ajmal

The 36-year-old believes the T20 format and rule changes in 50-over matches have made a real difference. More »

KP ridicules idea of day-night Tests

KP ridicules idea of day-night Tests

Kevin Pietersen has ridiculed the idea of day-night Test cricket, saying the game would be so different to proper Test cricket that we will need a whole… More »

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

The bowlers restricted Hyderabad to 133 for 6 before Rahane and Binny took Rajasthan over the line. More »

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

The Kings XI batsman blasted a 43-ball 95 to help his team pull off a massive chase against Chennai Super Kings. More »

BCCI members want independent probe

BCCI members want independent probe

The board members are realising after the Supreme Court's observations that something has to be done — IS Bindra More »

'BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srini'

'BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srini'

Two former BCCI presidents, Shashank Manohar and Jagmohan Dalmiya, have reacted strongly to the news of the BCCI calling an emergent meeting on Sunday… More »

Delhi look for first points against confident Kolkata

Delhi look for first points against confident Kolkata

Preview — The threat of Sunil Narine looms large again. More »

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

Preview — Given the firepower in both line-ups, Dubai crowd may see another high-scorer More »

Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj Singh was hardly convincing to begin with against Delhi, but a big dose of crowd support and a helping of poor bowling meant he had the opportunity… More »