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|October 9, 1999||
Pilot rules out challenge to Sonia's leadership
Senior Congress Working Committee member Rajesh Pilot has ruled out any challenge to the leadership of party president Sonia Gandhi.
Participating in the Janata ki Adaalat television programme, Pilot said, "There is no question of challenge. All of us are responsible for the party's defeat. Soniaji is responsible. We are also responsible."
On the question of election of the leader of the Congress Party in Parliament, Pilot said, "The election will be through consensus, but if a contest is required, it will take place."
He agreed that the party's decision to align with Rashtriya Janata Dal supremo Laloo Prasad Yadav in Bihar and All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief J Jayalalitha in Tamil Nadu affected the party's performance adversely.
He also criticised Congress politicians [Sonia Gandhi] who attended Jayalalitha's tea party in Delhi, before she withdrew support to the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. "Uss chai ka hame nuqsan hua. Maine mana kar diya tha, aajkay maukay par yeh chai galat sandesh daygi, jab saaray Congress leader Jayalalitha say chai piyengay, uglay din sircar giraygi, to yeh hoga ki chai par yahi khichdi puki ki sircar girao. (That tea party hurt us. I had opposed the participation of Congress leaders in the function, because it would immediately set tongues wagging that we conspired to bring down the government.)"
But his advice was not heeded. As a result, the Bharatiya Janata Party succeeded in convincing the electorate that it was the Congress that had toppled its government. "Yeh chhavi bun gayi hai, yeh such hai. Bahar message yahi hai: Congress nay giradee, yeh BJP walon nay bilkul sabkay man mein bhar diya. (Now it's become part of our image. The BJP has managed to convince everyone that we toppled the government.)"
Pilot said a combination of factors were responsible for the defeat of the Congress. Shortcomings in the party's policies, leadership and the winds of change, he said, were the main factors over which the party should ponder.
"We have to sit down and think over these issues. We have certainly lost our way somewhere," he said.
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