jairam ramesh
Pictured: Congress leader Jairam Ramesh addresses a press conferenceReuters

Former Union minister and Congress veteran Jairam Ramesh said on Monday, August 7, that the party is in "serious crisis," and that it needs to overhaul its structure in order to survive. 

The statement comes just a day before the Rajya Sabha elections in Gujarat, in the run-up to which the Congress has seen several hiccups, including several of its MLAs switching sides or simply resigning. 

Even otherwise, the political party has suffered several major electoral and political blows across the country, which has left it in power in just two major states: Punjab and Karnataka.

Even its coalition government in Bihar failed to complete full term because Chief Minister Nitish Kumar pulled his JD-U out of the alliance and went on to join hands with the BJP.

What Ramesh said

Speaking to news agency PTI in an interview, Ramesh said: "Yes, the Congress party is facing a very serious crisis."

And this is different from the "electoral crisis" it had faced after losing the first election post Emergency in 1977 and also when it was out of power from 1996 to 2004, said Ramesh. 

"Today, I would say that the Congress is facing an existential crisis. It is not an electoral crisis. The party really is in deep crisis," he said when asked about developments like party MLAs deserting it in Gujarat, which prompted leaders to corral 46 of them to Karnataka

Gujarat Congress
In picture: Gujarat Congress MLA and party spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil speaks to reporters in Bengaluru on Sunday, July 30, 2017.Twitter

'Congress has to change'

Ramesh also got pragmatic while explaining exactly why the anti-incumbency factor would not work in elections in BJP-ruled states. 

"We have to understand we are up against Modi, Shah. And they think differently, they act differently, and if we are not flexible in our approach, we will become irrelevant, frankly," he said, explaining how chief ministerial candidates were being overtaken by the narrative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah. 

The Congress veteran also called for an overhaul of the party structure and policies, saying: "Old slogans don't work, old formulas don't work, old mantras don't work. India has changed, the Congress party has to change."

He also said that Rahul Gandhi might take over as Congress president by year-end, something that had been hinted at several times before this

How Gujarat Rajya Sabha election scenario looks

Ahmed Patel's fate

Meanwhile, the fate of Ahmed Patel, trusted aide of Rahul's mother and current Congress president Sonia Gandhi, hangs in balance. After all, his chances of being elected to the Rajya Sabha have grown slimmer thanks to the aforementioned MLA desertions

And yet, he appeared confident of a win on Monday, possibly because the NCP has now thrown its weight behind him. "I just got the message that they have announced their support and will issue a whip as well," he told reporters on Monday.