"Manmohan Singh also said price rise and corruption were the issues on which the UPA government failed to communicate with the people. I take responsibility for the shortcomings of my government. We were not able to communicate satisfactorily with the people on the issues of price rise and corruption, and the situations that arose because of it, he said, according to Dwivedi."
New Delhi, May 19 - Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party vice president Rahul Gandhi Monday offered to resign owning responsibility for the crushing defeat in the Lok Sabha polls but the party rejected it while promising a thorough revamp and structural changes and admitting it was unable to connect with the electorate.
Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi made the offer of resignation at the Congress Working Committee (CWC) here meeting but the party leaders unanimously rejected their offer.
The CWC, the Congress highest decision-making body, authorised Sonia Gandhi to take whatever steps necessary in order to revamp the party organisation at all levels and sought to boost morale of party workers by pledging more opportunities for them in the party.
The party chief blamed polarising campaign of Bharatiya Janata Party for the defeat and said it was backed by unlimited resources and a hostile media.
She said the party needed clear-headed and fresh thinking to correct shortcomings and unless structural changes were made the party will not be able to meet the serious challenge it faces.
The meeting of CWC followed the party's worst electoral performance in Lok Sabha election when it could win only 44 seats, in the defeat at the hands of Narendra Modi, the BJP leader most unpalatable to the Congress.
Party general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said that 29 of 38 members spoke at the meeting which lasted about two and a half hours. According to party sources, almost one-third of the time of the meeting was taken up by the members urging both Gandhis not to press their resignations.
A resolution adopted at the meet termed the results a matter of great disappointment and said the CWC understands the pain of party workers and will collectively take corrective steps to win back support of people.
There were shortcomings and the party failed to read the profound changes that had taken place in the country during UPA rule, mainly because of its policy measures, it said.
We should introspect as to why we were unable to connect with the electorate. Both the government and the party must share responsibility for the failure and we do so, it said, calling for corrective measures by the party and its state governments.
The CWC pledged that it will create within the party opportunities and structures that will pave the way for a thorough revamp of the organisation.
It said the Congress will continue to defend values of democracy, secularism, inclusive development and social justice.
Sonia Gandhi, in her speech, said UPA government faced anti-incumbency and said the party should try to understand why its support base was eroded to such an extent.
Have we fully identified with aspirations of our people? Are we in tune with the aspirations of the youth? Have benefits of growth really reached the people? Is our party keeping pace with the change, she asked.
She said she had not been able to bring necessary changes to strengthen the party and took full responsibility for the this crushing defeat and was prepared to relinquish her position.
Speaking soon after her, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that the problem will not be solved by resigning.
Dwivedi said after prime minister spoke, Rahul Gandhi also offered to resign saying that there should be accountability and he had not been able to meet expectations from him.
Manmohan Singh also said price rise and corruption were the issues on which the UPA government failed to communicate with the people. I take responsibility for the shortcomings of my government. We were not able to communicate satisfactorily with the people on the issues of price rise and corruption, and the situations that arose because of it, he said, according to Dwivedi.
The CWC was full of praise for both Gandhis for their effort in campaign, while they appreciated the way Manmohan Singh led the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government for 10 years, said Dwivedi.