It was a reality check for Rahul Gandhi on the state of affairs in the Congress in his first formal interaction with party leaders as vice president which saw lot of fireworks, blame game and complaints of oneupmanship.
The three-hour-long meeting witnessed senior leaders targeting either their colleagues or Chief Ministers accusing them of hijacking the state organisations.
A senior leader even went on describe the interaction as a ‘hit and run’ affair with almost each office bearer utilising the opportunity to lash out at his opponent in the party either at the All India Congress Committee or in his own state.
Some general secretaries as also other leaders complained that some seniors are getting promotions despite losing states under their charge. Another complaint was that the state Pradesh Congress Committee becomes a handmaid of the party chief minister, who ensures a pliable PCC chief and runs the state according to his whims and fancies.
When the party loses in such a state, it becomes very difficult to revive the party organisation was the refrain of a number of leaders, sources said. The closed door meeting began after Rahul asked for a free and frank discussion.
"Rahul said that he wanted all leaders to speak out their mind openly and not hide anything. He said that if we want to strengthen the party, it is necessary that we put forth views frankly and truthfully," Party general secretary Dwivedi told reporters after the meeting.
Rahul told the leaders that the party has to look to future now. "I want to know your opinion on how to traverse the path ahead," he said. As the complaints mounted, Gandhi told the leaders "Why cry over spilt milk. Forget the past. Let us start with a clean slate.
"Now the organisation has to be run on the principle of performance and accountability," he said.