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“Party’s arrogance has to go” says Congress leader Jairam Ramesh over Delhi polls defeat

“It sounds like a slap on Shah’s face and it is a rejection of the language used in the campaign, tactics used in the campaign,” Ramesh said

Kochi: Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on Thursday concerning over the Congress debacle in the Delhi Assembly elections and the crisis it is facing in some states like Bihar and the Uttar Pradesh. He has suggested that the party “ruthlessly” reinvent itself or face the prospect of becoming irrelevant.

Another senior Congress leader Veerappa Moily has also called for a “surgical” action to revive the party in the context of the election drubbing.

“Congress leaders have to reinvent themselves. The party has to reinvent itself if it has to be relevant. Or else we are staring at irrelevance. Our arrogance has to go, even after we are out of power for six years some of us behave as if we are still ministers,” he said.

When questioned about the leadership issue in the party, Ramesh said local level leaders have to be encouraged and nurtured. He added that they have to be given freedom and autonomy.

“The substance and style of our leadership have to change. We are virtually not existing in Bihar, we are almost gone in UP but we are strong in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh. Haryana we have come back,” Ramesh said.

The Congress has to “ruthlessly reinvent” itself, he maintained.

Ramesh claimed the Delhi polls result was a rejection of Home Minister Amit Shah, who was also the chief campaigner from the BJP.

“It sounds like a slap on Shah’s face and it is a rejection of the language used in the campaign, tactics used in the campaign,” Ramesh said.

However, Ramesh, said his party, which ruled Delhi for 15 years during which key infrastructure including roads, Metro and airports were built, suffered a severe defeat in the polls.

Responding to a question on the presence of an increasing number of leaders from Kerala in the central leadership, he hailed the style of functioning of the Congress and its leaders in the southern state but said that “we cannot become a Kerala-centric party.”

“In Kerala, Congress faces a peculiar position, because our party is fighting against CPI(M). But what works in Kerala may not work another state. Congress cannot become a Kerala-centric party although we have very influential Kerala leaders now at the top of the party,” he said.

Ramesh did not favor the formula put forward by Shashi Tharoor for electing the Congress president, saying the Congress president is usually a consensus choice.

“Tharoor has given an election formula but for the long history of Congress party, there were only two occasions we had elections. I am totally at a loss to understand why Tharoor made such a suggestion,” Ramesh said.

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