New Delhi: While ‘rout’ or ‘drubbing’ do not even begin to describe the existential crisis of the Congress, having shrunk to just over 50 seats in 2019 elections despite an ostensibly well-fought contest, the party is yet not ready to ascribe the blunder to the top leadership, read Rahul Gandhi.

Despite the shameful political decadence and erosion, the dominant and public stance of the party is still that Rahul Gandhi is not to blame for it. The running argument to save Rahul Gandhi from the stigma for being responsible for making the Congress scrape the bottom of Indian polity is that he is “great guy” a “wonderful human being”, it is the bad advisors who have let him down.

“Rahul Gandhi is a great person, a very good person and while the Congress indeed has faced rout this elections, it is the coterie of bad self-serving advisors, who keep his view away from the ground reality, who are responsible for the humiliating defeat the Congress has suffered,” says Congress analyst and insider Tehseen Poonawalla.

Poonawalla is almost part of the family: he is the brother-in-law of Priyanka Gandhi’s husband Robert Vadra.

“Rahul is a great guy, but the people around him are not in touch with the reality of the ground. This does not reflect upon the Central leadership as much as the state leaders. Rahul Gandhi, just as other central leaders are briefed by their advisors who give them the feedback. The messaging has to come from there and that messaging has been completely wrong,” Poonawalla told MyNation.  

Another senior Congress leader, who wished not to be named, said followed the same line of argument. “One of his advisors is on TV every day. He comes third in Lok Sabha elections in Haryana and that when he is a sitting MLA. And, he is supposed to be very close to Rahul. So what is the message that is going out?”

Meanwhile, again a reflection of the fact that the Congress has still not taken lessons, despite being faced by a strong leader as Narendra Modi, is that Poonawalla ascribes factors to the loss of the Congress, but somehow to him they don’t stick to Rahul Gandhi.

Also read: How the 'Khan Market gang' failed Rahul Gandhi

“This BJP victory reflects that the Congress could not gauge the ground reality: what was working with the people, and what was not. The message was missed by the Congress party when it went on to make issues which were non issues this election. It was reflected in the Congress attempt to compete with the BJP in certain aspects. If they are going to be the B-Team of the BJP, the people will obviously go for the original and not the copy,” he said.

But who missed this message? Who made issues out of non-issues? Obviously, not Rahul Gandhi. But his advisors and party colleagues.  

“Congress made a lot of mistakes post the victories in the three states. Their senior advisors should have talked less to the media. They should have desisted from making frivolous comments on the media. It reflects poorly,” Ponawalla defends.  

“Would Nehru and Indira Gandhi have gone to JNU and stood by Kanhaiya Kumar, for example? No. So why is Rahul Gandhi doing it. Send some general secretary to do it. You don’t have to go. These developments and the ill-advice of people close to him increasingly put Rahul in a corner.