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After the party's poll drubbing in Uttar Pradesh, the clamour for "structural changes" in the Congress grew louder today with a senior leader demanding "major surgery" and another insisting the house needed to be "put in order".
On his part, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi himself expressed the need for organisational and structural changes.
While senior party leaders like M Veerappa Moily and Satyavrat Chaturvedi pitched for initiating such changes and "surgery" within the party to infuse fresh strength into it, former Union Minister Renuka Chowdhury called for putting the house in order.
Breaking his silence on party's worst-ever performance in Uttar Pradesh, where it bagged only seven of the 403 Assembly seats after a tie-up with Samajwadi Party, Rahul Gandhi said structural and organisational changes were needed.
However, he stressed that the assembly poll results were "not bad" even though the party was "a little down" in Uttar Pradesh, saying the BJP had won largely due to polarisation.
On questions being raised about his leadership abilities after the party's poor performance in UP and Uttarakhand, he called for initiating changes within and hailed the role of regional leaders who fought assembly polls and emerged victorious.
"As far as the Congress party is concerned, we do need to make structural and organisational changes and that is a fact," he said responding to questions from journalists.
Former Union Minister Moily called for a "major surgery" besides the need to decentralise the party. He, however, said it does not apply to the top party leadership.
"Structural change will have to take place. The party has to respond to the time and challenges," he said, adding that there should be "major surgery".
Chaturvedi said he has been calling for restructuring ever since the party's humiliating defeat in 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
"What is the need to take steps now when it has not been done when rquired," he said, recalling how he has been calling for the "much-needed" changes.
He also called for fixing accountability, saying heads of people responsible for the party's defeat should roll.
Chowdhury said, "We need to put our house in order and work as a cohesive team, and help increase our connect with the people."
Calling for bringing in fresh talent as there is no dearth of it in the Congress, she said, "Accountability needs to be fixed for the losses in state assembly polls and heads should roll.
(REOPENS DEL70) Asked about the need for restructuring, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said it cannot happen overnight. "Surgical restructuring is what Rahul Gandhi wants. But that cannot happen within 24 hours.
When Rahul Gandhi says these words, he means every word of it. In the light of what has happened now, we will see," Singhvi said. He said the Congress has statistically won three out of five elections, referring to it winning Punjab and emerging as the single largest party in Goa and Manipur. "They should be humble in victory and we should also be humble in defeat. We should work forward," he said. Asked about Rahul Gandhi's elevation, he said, "I have no doubt that it will happen. Everybody knows that de facto, not de jure Rahul Gandhi has been in charge of the party. He shared the defeat last time in front of the cameras.