While several Congress leaders have backed Vice President Rahul Gandhi after their rout in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, two former Congress ministers — Kishore Chandra Deo and Ashwani Kumar — have spoken out about a culture of "sycophancy" signalling the first signs of dissent in the grand old party after the recently-concluded Assembly polls.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Deo, who was also the Union Tribal Affairs and Panchayati Raj Minister during UPA's second term, said, "The same people keep playing musical chairs and are put in charge from one state to another. You take the list of states these people have been in charge of and in most, the Congress has lost."
He said that Gandhi was aware of this problem.
Meanwhile former law minister Kumar told the newspaper that when sycophancy is mistaken for loyalty it couldn't make for good leaders.
However, Gandhi seems to think the loss was not a very big deal. "That is not a bad result. It is true that we lost the election in UP and Uttarakhand," he said on Wednesday. "We had a little down in UP which is fine, we accept it."
These comments come at a time when the Congress party needs serious introspection about where it has gone wrong because its performance has consistently deteriorated in the last few Assembly elections. It was voted out of Delhi in 2013 after three straight terms in power, in Rajasthan in 2013, and in Assam in early 2016. In 2014, it suffered heavy losses in Maharashtra.
Other prominent leaders of the party have continued to back Gandhi.
According to NDTV, UP Congress chief Raj Babbar took full responsibility for the loss in the Assembly elections and said that the leadership of the party could not be changed. Congress leader Renuka Choudhury was quoted by the news channel as saying, "It has become a fashion to bash Rahul Gandhi. He is a unifying face and we can't do without him. It's not that Rahul needs us. We need Rahul Gandhi."
Meanwhile former Congress MP Priya Dutt claimed, according to another NDTV report, "He is a good leader, he is trying to do his best."
But as the Congress keeps losing in election after election, it is perhaps time that the Congress takes note of Kumar's and Deo's comments.