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India's Congress ponders future after disastrous election defeat

India's Congress Party is in introspection mode after it faced a disastrous defeat in the recently concluded general elections.

NEW DELHI: India's Congress Party is in introspection mode after it faced its disastrous defeat in the recently concluded general elections.

After a decade in power, the party is looking to see how it can be revamped, starting with its leadership, to make it more relevant to voters.

From 206 seats in 2009, Congress is now confined to just 44 seats in the 543-member parliament -- not even enough to lead the opposition bench.

Many are first looking at its leadership and party vice president Rahul Gandhi, who led Congress to its humiliating defeat.

His critics argue that a leader outside of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty should be promoted to bring the party back to victory.

However, some loyalists are unwilling to let the leadership move beyond Rahul and his mother, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, despite them offering to resign.

“Both of them offered to resign and Congress working committee rejected it," said Amarinder Singh, a Congress Party leader.

Still, some party workers, especially those at the grassroots level, believe that Rahul's sister Priyanka should be the new face of the revamped Congress Party, as she can appeal to India's youth.

"Because even before the results were declared, there was the talk about Priyanka shaping better than Rahul when she stepped out in Amethi and Raebareily for the purpose of campaigning,” said Majid Memon, a senior lawyer.

“It was felt by one and all that if she was used for more campaigning elsewhere in the country, probably Congress would have fared slightly better."

It is clear that Congress needs to re-evaluate if it is to do better in the next election.

That may mean more focus on young and urban voters, who voted for the BJP in droves as it promised the economic reforms that Congress failed to deliver.  

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