On the second day of his meet with state Congress leaders, the party vice president said that he has “things to do” and promised to put in place a mechanism to directly communicate with them. Renu Mittal reports
In the second day of the meeting convened by Rahul Gandhi to discuss organisational issues with the Congress Legislative Party leaders and state party presidents, he forcefully rejected suggestion to take over as prime minister. The Congress vice president, once again said that he has "things to do" and wants PM Manmohan Singh to continue.
He snubbed Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna during the meet. Bahuguna said Rahul should become the prime minister, which is what the country needed, but Rahul retaliated by saying that "doctor sahib" is the prime minister and he is doing a good job of running the country. He said he was focused on running and improving the functioning of the organisation and asked Bahuguna not to get involved in issues, which were not his concern but to focus on doing his job.
Also, Rahul asked the assembled leaders to stop the blame game -- not point fingers at the All India Congress Committee general secretaries for all their problems. He said that the states had to take responsibility for elections.
While he has said he would hold another round of meeting after three months, Rahul wants to hold a detailed meeting in the next 10 days with only the states scheduled to go to polls. These include Karnataka, Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh where assembly elections are due later this year.
Addressing the most frequently voiced complaint about lack of communication, Rahul asked state leaders to be in touch with him directly. He promised that in the next few days a mechanism would be evolved by which they would be able to communicate directly with him. This is a problem being faced by Congress leaders and workers for a long time now, as Congress President Sonia Gandhi was more often than not inaccessible to the aam party men.
Sources say Rahul wants direct information and feedback from state Congress leaders and does not want to rely on general secretaries and other functionaries, many of whom have been either suppressing information or ensuring it does not reach the leader.
He has asked the PCC presidents to visit every block and district in their states very regularly and this is being seen in the context of gearing up for the coming assembly and Lok Sabha elections
At the suggestion of Madhya Pradesh Congress Legislative Party leader Ajay Singh, Rahul agreed that there should be accountability in the distribution of tickets. Those leaders who ask for tickets for their supporters or others would have to be held accountable for these tickets since at the moment the culture is for senior leaders to corner the bulk of the tickets even if many of them are losing candidates, he said.
While the Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and the PCC President Chanderbhan did not cross swords with each other, like many other states, there was nothing particularly noteworthy about what they spoke, except for talking about the various schemes which had been launched by the state government and the programmes organised by the state unit.
Gehlot complained about the fact that negative aspects are published and publicised while the tremendous amount of positive and good work and the large number of initiatives and schemes launched are mainly ignored. He also said that during Indira Gandhi’s time there was a system of communication and Makhan Lal Fotedar had been deputed to handle this, while now it was difficult to meet the leader.
It is learnt that apart from the meeting Rahul met Gehlot and Chanderbhan separately to discuss the situation in Rajasthan.
Interestingly, some PCC presidents urged for a one-on-one meeting with Rahul, as they were not been able to take up a lot of issues in front of so many party men. AICC general secretaries and state in-charges were kept out of the picture and were not called to the meeting primarily to ensure that the CLP leaders and PCC presidents could speak with some degree of frankness.