The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sonia offers a ‘thought’

New Delhi, Dec. 7: Sharing blame to shield her lieutenant, Sonia Gandhi today held out a concession to restive elders by offering to consider reconstituting the new-look AICC.

“I will certainly give a thought,” Sonia said, referring to the AICC — the party’s enforcement arm — as she emerged from a seven-hour meeting of the CWC that went into the Assembly poll debacle.

The AICC, which implements decisions taken by the CWC and runs the day-to-day affairs of the party, was reconstituted six months ago to pacify some disgruntled leaders.

The non-committal offer to think about an AICC shake-up has ensured that Sonia’s trusted general secretary Ambika Soni will continue in the saddle.

Singled out for criticism within the party in the wake of the defeat in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, the two states under Soni’s direct charge, she had accepted “moral responsibility” and offered her resignation to the Congress president.

But Sonia said there was “no question of accepting Ambika’s resignation”. Throwing her full weight behind Soni, the party chief said: “Everyone in the organisation is responsible. Certainly, I will include myself.”

After the soul-search, the CWC stuck to the ritual of passing a resolution that reposed confidence in Sonia’s leadership and sought to set at rest speculation on the fallout of the poll outcome on her authority.

Sonia promised to rectify mistakes committed in the Assembly polls and evolve a strategy for the challenge in Andhra Pradesh in the first half of next year and the general elections that will follow.

She announced the formation of a committee that will suggest a blueprint for the elections. The Congress said it would stand by the Shimla resolve in July to seek poll tieups with friends in the “secular camp”.

Before the meeting, state Congress presidents of Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh — Ramanuj Yadav, Girija Vyas and Radhakrishna Malaviya, respectively — offered to resign. The resignation offers were under Sonia’s consideration.

Apart from the anti-incumbency factor, organisational weaknesses, campaign shortcomings and indiscipline were held responsible for the debacle. Former Chhattisgarh chief minister Ajit Jogi, who was suspended from the party last night in the wake of the bribery scandal, was not allowed to attend the meeting, though he was invited.

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