M A I N   N E W S

All is not lost: Sonia to cadres 
Says Manpreet’s PPP played spoilsport for Cong in Punjab
Anita Katyal
Our Political Correspondent

New Delhi, March 7
A day after the party’s disastrous performance in the recent Assembly elections, Congress president Sonia Gandhi today put in a rare public appearance to send out a message to demoralised cadres that all is not lost and that they should “pull their socks up” for the next round of battle later this year.

Sonia also dismissed suggestions that yesterday’s electoral debacle would damage the UPA government at the Centre and ruled out replacing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

“The question does not arise,” she told mediapersons after three-hour one-to-one meetings with party general secretaries where she took stock of the reasons for the party’s drubbing. She, however, refrained from saying who the party’s PM candidate would be in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. “We are in 2012 and 2014 is a long way off,” she replied.

Like her son AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi, the Congress president conceded defeat while admitting that the party had got less support than it had expected. She also did not shy away from enumerating the factors, which were responsible for the result, pointing out that each election was a lesson for the party, irrespective of a defeat or a victory.

The party, she said, would correct its mistakes and work determinedly for the next round of elections in Gujarat, HP and Karnataka. “We have to pull our socks up and prepare,” she underlined.

Referring to the Uttar Pradesh results where the Congress was able to improve its rally by a mere six seats, Sonia Gandhi blamed the poor show on the party’s weak organisation. Acepting the people’s verdict with humility, she said: “In UP, people were unhappy with the BSP and the alternative for them was the Samajwadi Party.”

Even though Rahul Gandhi had staked his personal prestige on the UP election and the result was particularly disappointing for the Congress party’s First Family, Sonia Gandhi put up a brave face and even made light of a question on lack of leaders in the state. “Rather than lack of leaders, too many leaders that’s our problem,” she said. She also admitted that the Congress choice of candidates may have been wrong when asked about the reason for the party’s defeat in the family pocketborough of Amethi and Raebareli. Her daughter Priyanka had campaigned extensively in the area and had promised to deliver all ten seats to her mother.

About the elections in Punjab, which saw the return of the Akali-BJP coalition for a second consecutive term, the Congress president said Manpreet Badal’s PPP had damaged the party in at least 23 seats and not the Shiromani Akali Dal as was expected. The PPP failed to win any seats but its five per cent vote share was enough to jolt the Congress. As for Goa, she simply said,” In Goa, the people were unhappy with us.”

Although frank in her preliminary appraisal of the election results, Sonia Gandhi was more diplomatic when questioned whether UPA allies will now get more assertive. “We will continue to keep in touch with our coalition partners as well as the Opposition and I am sure they will support us on issues which are beneficial to the people,” she remarked.


n All is not lost. Cadres should “pull their socks up for the next round of battle later this year

n Dismisses suggestions that Tuesday’s electoral debacle would damage the UPA government at the Centre. Rules out replacing PM Manmohan Singh





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