The election results in Jammu and Kashmir and Jharkhand completed the plummeting fortunes of the Congress in 2014, which began with its worst-ever defeat in Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan assemblies and later in the Lok Sabha polls. Over the past few days, Congress leaders at the party headquarters have been once again blowing the bugle, blaming top leadership particularly vice-president Rahul Gandhi for not only sending the organisation in a quagmire, but also demoralising cadres, by not attending key party functions. Rahul last Sunday chose to spend the year-end holidays abroad, rather than celebrating party’s foundation day. The number of Congress MLAs countrywide has for the first time come down to 949 against the the BJP’s 1,058.Even though the A K Antony committee set up to find reasons of the debacle did not fault Rahul Gandhi, the face of the party’s campaign, several Congress leaders feel the top leadership was yet to even make senior general secretaries and state unit presidents accountable. The only thing that happened was a series of deliberations chaired by Rahul himself.Antony in his report had expressed confidence that Congress would come back and regain lost ground under the leadership of Sonia and Rahul. But with the losing spree continuing in the states, the revival plans are still to make any headway.While in J&K leaders attribute their defeat to Rahul misreading and foisting an alliance upon them with the National Conference led by his friend Omar Abdullah, in Jharkhand, leaders are peeved at him for not allowing an alliance with like-minded parties. “We had to shoulder the blame of mis-governance of Omar Abdullah. We had pleaded the party high command many times in the past to break this alliance for the sake of party,” a senior Congress leader told dna, adding that Rahul had made the grand old party a bash of friends. “The Congress in Maharashtra has collapsed. In Andhra Pradesh, there is nothing left. It has been destroyed in Haryana,” says a former chief minister.To add salt to injury, last Sunday, when the party president Sonia Gandhi was hoisting the Congress party flag marking 129th foundation of the party, Rahul Gandhi was conspicuous by his absence.When asked about Rahul’s absence, party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the leader was absent due to some “urgent exigencies”. Later it was found that Rahul had already left the country to celebrate the new year get together with his friends.With the loss of face in core Hindu belt in Jammu region, a debate is raging in Congress, whether it has gone too far to appease minority community only. Congress may have won 12 seats in Jammu and Kashmir, but they are just numbers and not quality seats from its core areas. For years, Congress was seen as representing Hindu minority sentiments to maintain equilibrium in the country’s only Muslim- majority state. Congress doesn’t have a single Hindu MLA currently in its ranks in the state, making it difficult for the major party PDP to invite it for an alliance. Except for two Buddhists, all its other 10 MALs are Muslims.”When you have a scenario where even the secular Hindus who had voted Congress for generations, vote for the BJP, you are left without any vote bank,” said a senior Congress leader. “Even if we reshuffle chiefs and general secretaries, there is still a need to get our messaging right. We have lost the connect with our voters and need to figure out how to communicate with them,” the leader said.

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Congressmen blame Rahul Gandhi for continuous defeats