NEW DELHI: Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath was conspicuously missing from the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting held here on Saturday to discuss the reasons for the party's abysmal performance in the 2019 general elections.
Most of the party's senior leaders such as former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, party chief Rahul Gandhi, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Mallikarjun Kharge attended the meet.
Chief Ministers of Rajasthan Ashok Gehlot, Punjab Amarinder Singh and Chhattisgarh Bhupesh Baghel were also present at the meeting. Chief ministers of four Congress-ruled states and the Union Territory of Puducherry were asked to attend the CWC meet.
Foremost on the table is the challenge to keep the flock together in states like Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh, where efforts were on to destabilise the government.
The party is also likely to discuss upcoming Assembly elections in Haryana, Jharkhand and Maharashtra, a source said.
Out of the 23 CWC members, only four won in the just concluded elections -- party chief Rahul Gandhi, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Gaurav Gogoi and A. Chella Kumar.
The 12 other CWC members, who lost the polls, include heavyweights like Mallikarjun Kharge, former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat, former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, former Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Raghuveer Singh Meena, Jitin Prasada, Deepender Hooda, Sushmita Dev, K.H. Muniyappa and Arun Yadav. Seven CWC members did not participate in the Lok Sabha elections this year.
Heads have already started rolling after the party managed to win only 52 seats in the lower house, only eight more than 2014. Congress Uttar Pradesh in-charge Raj Babbar resigned from the post on Friday, along with campaign committee chief H.K. Patil, Odisha party chief Niranjan Patnaik and Amethi District Congress President Yogendra Misra.
In Uttar Pradesh, the party failed to even retain the Gandhi bation of Amethi, where Rahul Gandhi lost to Union Minister and BJP candidate Smriti Irani by a margin of over 55,000 votes.
In Karnataka, the party won only one seat with senior party leader Mallikarjun Kharge losing by a huge margin.
According to sources, a few other senior leaders and party in-charges from states where the party drew a blank, are expected to offer to step down. The final call will be taken at the CWC, the party's highest decision-making body.
Congress won only 3 seats in three states -- Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh -- where it formed governments in December 2018.
"The chief ministers and party in-charges from these three states will answer for the debacle and issues that needs to be prioritised in their respective states," the source added.