Amid the deepening disquiet and gloom within the Congress following its comprehensive rout in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand assembly elections, Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday echoed the growing intra-party clamour for massive overhauling of the Congress organisation, even as he claimed that the recent assembly poll results in five states were "not bad" although the party was a "little down" in UP.
Speaking to reporters outside Parliament for the first time after the assembly elections results, the Congress vice president broke his silence on his party's worst-ever performance in UP, where it managed to bag only 7 of the total 403 assembly seats despite an alliance with the Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party.
Rahul acknowledged that the BJP won UP and Uttarakhand. While congratulating the BJP for its spectacular sweep of UP, he claimed that the BJP won there "largely due to polarisation" among other factors. Amid questions being again raised over his leadership following the Congress's UP debacle, Rahul said, "As far as the Congress party is concerned, we do need to make structural and organisational changes and that is a fact".
Pointing to the Congress's landslide victory in Punjab and its emergence as the single largest party in Manipur and Goa, he claimed "That is not a bad result".
He said there are "ups and down" for every party, adding, "We had a little down in UP which is fine, we accept it. But we have a ideological fight with the BJP and we will continue to do that."
On the question of empowering the Congress's regional leaders, Rahul gave the examples of recent assembly polls, saying they had been running the elections in these states including Punjab, Goa and Manipur.
Rahul's renewed pitch for organisational and structural changes in the Congress made it clear that such an exercise might be carried out by the party leadership soon.
It is another matter that Rahul has failed to effect such changes in the Congress organisation since the party's worst-ever poll defeat in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Not surprisingly, in the wake of its UP and Uttarakhand disaster now, several senior Congress leaders have again reportedly started demanding "major surgery" in its structures and affairs to revive and rejuvenate the ailing 131-year-old party. They also called for fixing of accountability and rolling of heads over poll defeat.
The former Union minister M Veerappa Moily called for a "major surgery" besides the need to decentralise the Congress.
Another senior Congress leader Satyavrat Chaturvedi said he has been calling for the party's restructuring since its 2014 general elections catastrophe. "What is the need to take steps now when it has not been done when rquired," he lamented.