Rahul Gandhi on Monday stressed on going by the rulebook and the need for "emotional unity" among Congressmen as he wrapped up his first formal interaction with office bearers which saw the leaders slamming ticket distribution system and work allocation pattern.
The Congress vice president also expressed his keenness to have such discussions from block to state level. He dubbed the Congress Constitution a "radical document" but stressed that "the need is that we implement the provisions properly", sources said.
At the party's two-day Chintan Shivir also, Gandhi had slammed the absence of any rules in Congress working, wondering how the party functions.
During the discussion at AICC also, Gandhi's repeated refrain was to ensure that the party should function as per a certain system and rules.
"Rahul Gandhi said he desires to hold such meetings even at state level and if possible even with party workers at district and block level. As and when a programme is finalised, you will be informed," party general secretary Janardan Dwivedi told reporters as Rahul three-day interaction with AICC leaders, the first after he was elevated as Congress vice president, came to a close.
Gandhi's focus on implementing the rules came amid complaints galore that performance was being ignored in the party and that the organisation was not given importance by those in the government.
As a number of AICC secretaries complained of lack of work allocation and being ignored in the party, Gandhi also chose the occasion to stress on developing an emotional chord among party men and treating the party as a family.
On Friday, Gandhi had said that there should be a feeling camaraderie among all leaders as complaints poured in.
As last two days' deliberations of the party's closed door meeting were reported openly in the media, a senior party functionary is understood to have issued a gag order on Monday warning the participants against leaking any information to press. A total of 14 party leaders spoke in the meeting.
Gandhi's intervention came in the middle of the discussions in which he said that Congress has been founded with the huge experience of leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and others and the Constitution of the party is a reflection of that.
The meeting also saw demands for an early resolution of the Telangana issue. "All the leaders spoke on how to strengthen the party and the organisation," Dwivedi said.
A party functionary speaking on condition of anonymity said that Rahul was keen that the party puts up a united face though he allowed members to speak freely and some senior leaders came under criticism.
On the first visit to the AICC headquarters in January after becoming vice president, Gandhi had said "So this is the heart of the Congress family". The message of "emotional unity" was something that Gandhi emphasised even today.
At the Chintan Shivir also, Gandhi had sought to raise the comfort level of seniors making it amply clear that his elevation did not mean any take over of the Congress by the young leaders ignoring the senior.
During the interaction at the AICC, while Gandhi did focus on the need for reform in the party functioning, he did not favour any "hit and run" attitude among the leaders.
The first day of the meeting had seen complaints from some leaders that those who "destroyed" the party in one state after another were given prominence and that there was no change in state leadership even after successive losses.
A demand was raised for clear allocation of work to AICC secretaries on the second day of the meeting with some complaints that they have not been given any important task even after being on the post for two years.
Ashok Tanwar, a leader from the Rahul brigade, had rued that the cadres of Youth Congress were "directionless" in the state and could not be properly utilised during the elections.
"Everybody was given a chance to speak up. It was a free and frank discussion," Dwivedi said. Gandhi had set the tone for the discussion on the first day itself asking leaders to speak out their mind openly and without any fear.
The third day of discussions also saw complaints that the government was ignoring the party, which prompted young minister Jitender Singh to suggest that Union Ministers should sit in AICC for a day every month and talk to party leaders.
Senior leader Hanumant Rao told Gandhi that "you will definitely become prime minister in 2014...Your speech in Jaipur has instilled confidence among us."
Haryana MP Avtar Singh Badhana complained that thought it is repeatedly said that the party is supreme, when Congress comes to power, those who go in government ignore party workers and leaders.
"The party is forgotten once its government is formed," he said.
As the meeting saw members raising concerns how to reach out to people, Union Minister Jitendra Singh, a close associate of Rahul Gandhi, proposed that Ministers should sit at least for a day in the AICC office and meet the party workers every month.
Recalling that late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi used to meet people every morning, Mahila Congress chief Anita Verma said that it will bring great results for the party if Rahul Gandhi also adopts the same method and fixes a time for meeting people in the morning any day in a week.
"This way you will remain in direct contact with people," she said.
Hanumant Rao urged Rahul Gandhi to take special efforts for developing leadership among SCs, STs, OBCs and minorities saying that they will be the backbone of the party in future.
Rao also said that alliances with regional parties have not benefited Congress. "Whenever we align with a regional party, our votes are transferred to them but we do not get their votes. This results in their strengthening at our cost."