New Delhi: Rita Bahuguna Joshi on Thursday joined a group of disenchanted Congress leaders who have quit the party since the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and attacked party Vice-President Rahul Gandhi over his style of leadership.
Joshi served as chief of Uttar Pradesh Congress between 2007-2012 and was a prominent face of the party in the state. Her resignation from the Congress came a few months ahead of the crucial assembly elections and is being viewed as a blow to the party campaign.
Joshi’s brother and former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna had also targeted Rahul Gandhi after he quit the Congress to join the Bharatiya Janata Party earlier this year. Former Assam Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, considered instrumental in the BJP’s victory in Assam earlier this year, had also attacked the Congress Vice President.
The Congress has been seeking to build a broad caste coalition in Uttar Pradesh which includes Brahmins and other forward castes apart from Dalits, Muslims and backward classes. The party has been out of power in Uttar Pradesh for nearly three decades and Rahul Gandhi is personally leading the efforts for its revival in the state which sends 80 MPs to the Lok Sabha.
Joshi on Thursday made a distinction between the working styles of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son, Rahul Gandhi.
“Sonia ji used to understand us. She might take any decision but used to listen to us, but even that is not possible under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi,” she said.
“The leadership of Rahul Gandhi is just not acceptable to Uttar Pradesh but to the entire nation. Even senior leaders of the state are angry,” she added.
Joshi, who had been in the Congress for 24 years, said: “The way he (Rahul) should have given leadership to a national party, he failed to do it seriously. His leadership is not acceptable to the people.”
Joshi did not spare Rahul Gandhi’s strategy to use the services of poll strategist Prashant Kishor, saying that “a poll manager can never be a poll director”.
According to her, Kishor was not just deciding the direction of the election “but the whole leadership was handed over to him”.
Himanta Biswa Sarma, who quit the Congress before the Assam assembly polls earlier this year, had also targeted Rahul Gandhi over his style of leadership.
Sarma had said in a TV interview that Rahul Gandhi became Congress Vice President not because of merit but because he is the son of Sonia Gandhi.
Sarma alleged that there was a culture of entitlement and “concession” in the Congress.
Vijay Bahuguna had accused Rahul Gandhi of not giving him time to meet for two years while there was discontent simmering among state leaders.
Former Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan had quit the Congress last year and had accused Rahul Gandhi of interference in the working of the ministry.
Some other prominent leaders have also quit the Congress after the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Former union minister G.K. Vasan has sought to revive the Tamil Maanila Congress while former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Ajit Jogi has floated his own party.
The Congress has not won any major state on its own since its debacle in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.