Milind Deora first to speak out: Rahul advisers wrong, so were people they advised In the first open criticism from within the Congress after the partyâ€™s crushing electoral defeat, former union minister Milind Deora said on Wednesday that Rahul Gandhiâ€™s advisers did not have their â€œears to the groundâ€ and those with â€œno electoral experienceâ€ were â€œcalling the shotsâ€, but added that â€œthe people who take the advice also have to bear responsibilityâ€. Speaking to The Indian Express, Deora, who lost from Mumbai South, said while â€œmany factorsâ€ led to the partyâ€™s defeat and Rahulâ€™s leadership alone could not be blamed, â€œit was not about one personâ€™s image but the people surrounding that person alsoâ€. â€œThe question is whether the set of advisers had their ears to the groundâ€¦ There were strong murmurs in the party that people who are calling the shots are people with no electoral experienceâ€¦ no stature, standing, respect and credibility in the party. They were in charge of important departments and held key positions. This whole group of people did not listen to what party cadres and MPs were saying. They did not allow diverse opinion to come throughâ€¦ and shut out a lot of people. Many of us knew the party has become unresponsive. Had the system been more open and accomodative and had the diverse opinions been openly heard, corrective measures could have been taken,â€ he said. â€œA lot of us felt our voices were never heard. We felt our voices donâ€™t matter. This has to change. The MPs and ministers should not feel we are being not heard,â€ he added. â€œIt is not the advisors alone. The people who take the advice also have to bear responsibility. Those who gave advice and those who received the advice as also those who feel they can give better advice â€” all have to bear responsibility,â€ said Deora, while refraining from taking any names. The only way forward, he said, was for the party to â€œopen upâ€ and â€œpromote avenues for dissent and debate internallyâ€. The party should introduce free and frank discussions and accountability, he said. Stating that a â€œseries of things have been going wrong for a long timeâ€, Deora said, â€œI donâ€™t think blaming the campaign alone is the right way to look at it. We went wrong in many areas. From the point of view of the party, government, communication, coordination in the party, coordination between the party and government â€” in all of these areas we were going wrong drasticallyâ€¦ There were things unfolding for a long period of three years.â€ He said both the party and the government did not â€œrespond adequatelyâ€. â€œWhen it responded, it came out as arrogant and insensitive. And it all culminated in the campaign, which from the start was a very difficult campaign. It was our undoing frankly. It was a self-inflicted wound,â€ he said. â€œI do believe the buck stops with the party. It is easy to say that the government did not do something. But the party has the power to make changes in the government. The party was sitting and watching what was happening and unfolding. The party should have stepped in long time back,â€ he said. Asked who was to blame, he said, â€œthere are many people from top to bottomâ€¦ there was lack of coordination and the response was slowâ€¦ there was a very unresponsive attitude. Thatâ€™s why I said the buck stops with the party.â€ Deora said even the message that came out of the CWC meeting on Monday could have been articulated better. â€œThe whole CWC meeting could have been handled much better. The message going out to those who supported the party, voted for the party and worked for the party could have been articulated much better. I donâ€™t think the right message is coming out. These are the things in the party which have to be changed radically,â€ he said. Now that the Congress is in the opposition, he said the party has to decide whether it wants to become an NGO or a political organisation. â€œWe are a political party. We have to be an aggressive opposition now. It needs certain skill sets, leaders, communication skills, strategists, and all these things require discussion, debate and deliberation. We have to have the right people at the right place. The kind of people who are calling the shots nowâ€¦ People who are policy experts, technocrats, researchers should be connected with the dotted line to the organisation. They should not be a part of the core organisational chart of the party as has been happening for the last few years,â€ he said. Milind Deora first to speak out: Rahul advisers wrong, so were people they advised | The Indian Express | Page 99 ************************************************************ That was the closest and frank criticism, though the Gandhis were not named. Yet, the statement -It is not the advisers alone. The people who take the advice also have to bear responsibility - indicts Rahul Gandhi for taking advice from folks who were far away from reality. And this is most damning - the party has to decide whether it wants to become an NGO or a political organisation . It is clear sarcastic remark on Sonia Gandhi and her silly NAC, that was more of an NGO and which ruined decision making of the Govt.