Jodhpur, June 1 : A week after the Congress suffered a humiliating defeat on all 25 Lok Sabha seats in Rajasthan for the second time in a row, party workers accused Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot of neglecting grassroots workers and promoting dynastic politics.
Several party workers have demanded a change of guard in the state.
Speaking to IANS, Anand Purohit, a Vice President of the legal cell of the Congress and a former District President of Youth Congress from Jodhpur said, "Many communities turned their back on the Congress. These include Brahmins, Rajputs and the Jats.
"Even the team of the Chief Minister from Jaipur did not have faith in the local party workers. District Congress workers were neglected by the Jaipur team; they were not told to participate in the party's campaign programme. Many times they were not even aware of the campaign schedule in the area."
He alleged the Jaipur team betrayed party President Rahul Gandhi.
Voicing his anger, Purohit said, "We are born as Congress soldiers and will die as Congress soldiers. But we feel bad when we see the party dying in this way".
Echoing similar opinion, Rajesh Sharaswat, Congress Seva Dal general secretary, said the problem for the party's rout in the state lies with the Chief Minister.
"After the dismal performance in 2014 Lok Sabha elections when the party could not win a single seat in the state, the party made a comeback under the leadership of Sachin Pilot in the local elections as well as Assembly polls held last year and formed the government," Sharaswat said.
He said most castes are angry with the Chief Minister. That was the reason why they voted for the BJP in the election.
Sharaswat said, "Pilot should be made the Chief Minister of the state and Gehlot be given a bigger role in the party in Delhi."
He pointed out that had Pilot been the Chief Minister, the party would have managed to win at least four seats in the state.
Another party worker and former Krishi Mandi Chairman, Kalu Singh said that dynasty policy of Gehlot hurt the party a lot in the elections.
He said most of the party leaders' sons, daughters or relatives are occupying plum posts in the party at every level. "This has not gone down well with the people. That's why even the son of Ashok Gehlot, Vaibhav Gehlot, lost the election," Singh said.
After the party's dismal performance in the Lok Sabha elections, Rahul Gandhi offered to step down from the post during the Congress Working Committee. But his offer to step down was rejected by the CWC members unanimously.
During the party's top decision-making body meeting, Rahul Gandhi was forthright in targeting senior leaders for preferring their sons.
Party sources said Rahul Gandhi had taken the names of Gehlot, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath and former Finance Minister and senior party leader P. Chidambaram for preferring their sons in the general election.
Targeting the senior leadership of the party, Singh said, "The state government believed only in show-off while nothing was visible on the ground. If this was not the case, then how did the people get so much annoyed with the state government within five months?"
Singh also pointed out differences between Gehlot and Pilot. "They came together on public platforms, but there were differences between them."
Singh said party workers who work hard must be rewarded.
When asked if a change in the state party leadership is required, he said, "Yes, it should happen if the party wants to win in the next assembly elections."
Shravan Bishnoi, block Vice President of Congress from Osian area of Jodhpur said the senior leadership completely neglected the grassroots workers during the elections.
He said, after the defeat in 2014, under Pilot they worked hard and connected with every family at every booth.
"And we made a comeback in the Assembly polls last year. But during this election (2019 Lok Sabha elections) the grassroots workers were completely neglected, resulting in the people voting for the BJP," Bishnoi said.
He said the party leadership needs to repose its faith in the grassroots workers which is its main strength instead of relying on a team which has no knowledge of the area and the caste calculation.
(Anand Singh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)