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I share responsibility for electoral debacle: Sonia

By Tara Shankar Sahay in Delhi and agencies
Last updated on: December 07, 2003 20:50 IST
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Congress Party president Sonia Gandhi on Sunday said she shared responsibility for the party's debacle in the assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh and promised to take corrective measures.

"Everyone in the organisation is responsible. Certainly I will include myself," she told reporters after a daylong meeting of the Congress Working Committee that went into the rout in the three states.

Asked if she would reconstitute the AICC, Gandhi said, "Certainly I will give a thought."

She also acknowledged that her party lost the assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh because 'it could not fulfil the aspirations of the people'.

Though several party leaders had resigned, she said, "There is no question of accepting their resignations."

She said a committee has been formed to look into allegations that former Chhattisgarh chief minister Ajit Jogi attempted to buy rival BJP legislators.

She said the committee will submit its report in 10 days and Jogi would be given the opportunity to explain his position.

Asked whether the parliamentary polls in 2004 was going to be fought on the basis of 'Vajpayee versus Sonia', she said it was too early to make such predictions.

Later, chief party spokesman S Jaipal Reddy said that the discussions were 'frank and positive'. The party's shortcomings as well as its future strategy were also discussed, he said.

He said the possibility of the parliamentary polls being advanced was discussed.

Reddy had to face considerable flak from agitated reporters when he failed to tell them who members of the committee looking into the Jogi controversy were.

"I am not aware of the name of the members of the committee," he saod.

Asked about the question of alliance with other parties in the states, he said the stand taken during the Shimla conclave was relevant in the context.

To a question on corrective measures in the wake of the defeat, she said some action would be taken. 

Earlier, party general secretary Ambika Soni has sent in her resignation to Sonia Gandhi owning moral responsibility for the defeat in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

"I was in-charge of party's affairs in MP and Rajasthan. So, I own moral responsibility for the party's defeat in the two states," she said.

"I have sent my resignation to the AICC chief for acceptance. I want to be relieved of my responsibility," Soni said.

Asked about the reasons for party's defeat in the two states, she said it was very early to say anything. "We will thoroughly analyse the results."

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Tara Shankar Sahay in Delhi and agencies