In October 2017, months earlier than he has become Congress president, Rahul Gandhi instructed a meeting in Gujarat that the loss in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections changed into a great aspect to have happened to him. “The BJP thrashed and abused me so much that it opened my eyes,” he stated, in an as an alternative self-reflective tone.

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The lesson he learned from that rout stayed with him, and he would repeat it in his next interactions. He projected himself as an antithesis to Narendra Modi, and his campaigns within the meeting elections in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh positioned the Congress again on course.

But Modi used Gandhi’s antithesis-pushed strategy to his personal gain inside the Lok Sabha elections this year. An astute flesh presser, he wove a story of naamdaar as opposed to kaamdaar (dynast vs worker), which won overwhelming support from the citizens.

The Congress’s defeat this time has been harsher for Rahul, who had led the celebration from the front. He took “a hundred in line with cent duty” for the terrible display, which saw the celebration prevailing simply 52 seats. Rahul stated he might step down as Congress president, but the declaration most effective deepened the crisis in the celebration.

A month after the consequences, THE WEEK spoke to party leaders who’re but to come back to terms with the rout. “I sense we truly don’t realize what is happening in politics,” said former external affairs minister Salman Khurshid. “This defeat is so undeserved. What did we do to entail this sort of terrible defeat?”

A former member of the Congress’s social media group said the consequences have been worse than its projected worst-case situation. “Before the counting of votes, we have been invited to the Congress war room at 15 Gurudwara Rakabganj Road, for a get-collectively to watch the effects,” said the member. “There became an air of expectancy. Everyone believed that even a negative display might place Congress numbers around one hundred seats.”

Said Pawan Bansal, who contested from Chandigarh: “Even now, wherever I cross, people ask ‘what happened’. Everyone strongly believed that I would win.”

What has been extra disconcerting is how Rahul’s solve to step down has rendered the Congress rudderless. “The Congress Working Committee (CWC) will determine [on party president]. That choice will [determine] the direction,” stated Madhusudan Mistry, Rajya Sabha member who’s taken into consideration near Rahul.

While liberal intellectuals have criticized Rahul for his incapability to stop the BJP, no Congressman has overtly revolted towards him. Everyone is looking at whether or not the birthday celebration can live on without a Gandhi at the helm. Many in the birthday celebration, just like the Youth Congresspeople who recently gathered outside Rahul’s residence traumatic that he stay on as president, suppose that it will not.

“Just due to the fact a person loses, it does not mean it’s miles the end,” said Mistry. “Look at Brazil. They misplaced 7-1 inside the [FIFA] World Cup [semifinal against Germany in 2014]. But that doesn’t mean they gave up. They fought on.”P.L. Punia, senior chief and a permanent invitee to the CWC, stated, “What Rahul is announcing is that there should be greater leaders coping with duties. In the BJP, they have got Modi, [party president] Amit Shah and even RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat taking decisions. Here it became handiest Rahul Gandhi taking them on. He wants to delegate [duties].”

While the exact nature of delineating duties is still no longer clear, some symptoms of change are getting seen. On June 19, Congress disbanded the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee, at the same time as retaining Dinesh Gundu Rao as the country president and Eshwar Khandre as a working president. On June 24, K.C. Venugopal, the birthday party’s countrywide fashionable secretary in fee of the agency, introduced the disbanding of all district units in Uttar Pradesh. The selection got here after review meetings held by Priyanka Gandhi and Jyotiraditya Scindia, the two popular secretaries in charge of the country. The Congress’s legislative birthday celebration leader, Ajay Kumar Lallu, has been entrusted with making organizational modifications in Uttar Pradesh East. A separate committee will look at alleged acts of indiscipline by way of partymen.

There is a not unusual strategic thread that connects the changes in Karnataka and UP. The Congress has either retained or entrusted obligation to elected representatives, as a result of sending a message that achievers could be rewarded. The appointment of Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, a five-time MP from West Bengal, as chief of the birthday party in the Lok Sabha, sends a similar message. An assertive leader, Chowdhury is anticipated to aggressively assignment the treasury benches.

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