Sonia Gandhi accepts defeat with humility

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Updated: Dec 9 2013, 01:54am hrs
Accepting the people's verdict with "humility", top leadership of the Congress today pledged to transform the party ahead of 2014 Lok Sabha polls for which it would announce its Prime Ministerial candidate "at the opportune time".

Stating that the party was "very very disappointed" over the assembly results in four states, Congress President Sonia Gandhi said there was a need to do "deep introspection".

Gandhi and her son Rahul, party Vice President, met journalists at the Congress headquarters here to acknowledge the victory of "our opponents" whom she congratulated.

"Obviously people are unhappy. Otherwise they would not have given the results that they gave," she said.

Briefly analysing the causes for the defeat, Gandhi said there were a number of reasons, which included price rise and different issues.

Gandhi expressed confidence that the results of assembly polls will not have a bearing on the next 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.

Asked whether the Congress party would name its Prime Ministerial candidate against BJP's Narendra Modi, Gandhi 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 Rahul 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.

Rahul said through the elections, "people have given us a message, which we have heard."

The Congress party has to transform itself to stand up, he said. "We have to move to a new paradigm and give serious space to the common masses."

Asked about the spectacular performance of Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi, he said both the major parties, Congress and BJP, had thought about politics in a traditional way.

"I think, we need to consider thinking in terms of empowering the people which I have been saying within the party. I am going to make this a central issue," he said.

Maintaining that he would learn from the success of AAP, Rahul said the new party involved lot of people which traditional parties do not do.

"We are going to involve them (people) in a way you can't imagine," he said.

Maintaining that Congress has listened to "not only from our mind but our hearts too" the message given by the people through these election results, Rahul Gandhi said the ruling party has the ability to "transform" itself and stand up to the expectations of the people.

"Congress is going to do that.... We work for the people of this country and it is our duty to listen to you. That is what we are supposed to do.

"We have heard what you have said and we are going to do whatever we can do as individuals and as a party to live upto your expectations," Gandhi said pledging to the people to give them an organisation that they would be proud of and one that has people's voice embedded inside it.

Noting that both the major parties---Congress and BJP --are thinking about politics, particularly in Delhi, in a traditional way, he said, "I fundamentally believe that and I am going to put all my effort in transforming the organisation of the Congress party together with the leaders of the Congress party."

He added "we need to start thinking about politics of empowerment of people. I have been saying this inside the Congress. I am now going to do it very aggressively in the Congress and I am going to work with the Congress leadership to make this central."

Gandhi said that the AAP involved a lot of people which the traditional political parties did not do.

"We are going to learn from that and do a better job than anybody in the country and involve people in ways you cannot even imagine now," he promised.

Both the Congress President and the Vice President said that Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit had "worked hard" and "a great deal of work was done".

"...Dikshit had worked hard in Delhi. I believe she gave good governance but I think what we need to do as a party is move ahead of just talking about good governance and move to place where we are giving serious place to the common man in our processes, systems and structures.

"Political parties are not giving adequate voice to the man on the street and it is our job as institutions of people to do that," Rahul Gandhi said.

Sonia Gandhi said that in Delhi, where Congress was in government for three terms, she does believe that "a great deal of work was done. But obvioulsy the results tell us something else."

She also did not hide her disappointment at the party's thorough drubbing in Rajasthan, where it was in power.

"In states like Rajasthan, we all thought that our Chief Minister had run some very very good programme so again there is a question mark," the Congress President said.

Questions regarding Narendra Modi versus Rahul Gandhi in this election were put to both the leaders. While the Congress President did not take it up, Rahul Gandhi said Modi is a leader of the BJP and what the BJP is doing is their concern.

"Modi is leader of the BJP. The Congress has a vision of this country and perspective of this country. The BJP has another perspective. Our job is to push our perspective and that is what we are going to do.

"Their job is to push their perspective. My focus is that how can we transform this country, use the power of the youth of the country. What the BJP is doing, that is their concern," the Congress Vice President said replying to questions on the issue.