NEW DELHI: Waking to the damage to the party due to a steady stream of desertions since 2014 and more so in recent months, Congress has asked its state units to provide details about MPs who represented the party in the last three LS and who were in RS from 2004 and have still not left the fold.

The concern over tracking the current status of leaders, some of whom might no longer be MPs, appears to signal that Congress has lost count of its popular leaders in the aftermath of six years of continuous exodus triggered due to poaching by BJP and other rival regional parties.

In an urgent and unprecedented communique, Congress has asked its state units to provide details of the MPs. Finding names of those elected to the LS in 2004, 2009 and 2014 and those who were sent to RS would have been an easy task for the Delhi brass but for the fact that many have left Congress for greener pastures. There is no count of how many such leaders have bolted in recent years, and just where they are currently perched.

The urgency of the matter can be gauged from the fact that K C Venugopal, AICC general secretary in-charge of organisation, mentioned the issue alongside the three-point official agenda — 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, training programme for Congress workers and membership drive — at the meeting held by Congress president Sonia Gandhi with state units and AICC managers on Thursday.

The stock-taking of leaders in the party stable could be the starting point to shortlist candidates for appointments in the organisation and future electoral battles. The exits have robbed the party of leaders with mass appeal, the process starting with BJP’s victory in 2014 following Congress’s decade-long rule at the Centre. It has weakened Congress’s electoral muscle across states as more reverses in state polls followed along with what many in the party feel was a period of organisational neglect.

After being out of office, Congress was caught by surprise as BJP used mass defections as a political strategy to weaken the rival. It has not only been limited to MPs but has extended to state legislators whose revolts have saved and bolstered many a BJP government while also removing the threat of Congress posing a challenge in case of thin majorities.

The sentiment of a weak Congress has also sent its leaders to other safe houses like Telangana Rashtra Samithi, BJD in Odisha, YSR Congress in Andhra Pradesh and TMC.

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