In a stern warning to rebels, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Friday said that from now on doors won't remain open for those who left the party and contested elections against official nominees as he would do away with the past practice of re-inducting such members.
In his first interaction with party leaders and office bearers of the Mumbai unit after his elevation as vice president, Rahul said he had come to meet them so that there could be fruitful discussions during which some rules could be formulated for effective functioning of the organisation.
He said he would do away with the past practice of re-inducting rebels into the party. "Doors were open for them earlier. But now this will not happen," he was quoted as having told the meeting which was not open to the media.
"Those rules will be binding from me and to the rest of the party," he told the gathering and made it clear that empowering meritorious activists would be his focus.
Rahul also said he would take the initiative to resolve the issue of appointment of the Mumbai Congress president, pending for the last one year. The Mumbai Congress unit has been without a leader ever since Kripashankar Singh, facing allegations of corruption, resigned following the party's defeat in the civic elections last year.
Party sources attribute the delay in appointment of the city unit president to infighting in each of the six districts controlled by high-profile MPs from Mumbai. "This will be my responsibility, but you will also have to fulfil your responsibility as a party worker," he said, adding, "I will strive for fairness and do justice to all."
With large parts of Maharashtra reeling under drought, he also asked the Congress workers to utilise the party machinery to provide relief to those affected. He reaffirmed his commitment to reaching out to each and every Congress worker in the country.
Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee spokesman Sachin Sawant said Rahul also sought views from the workers about how to rejuvenate the party organisation and told them what was expected of them. "We need to stick to the Congress ideology and victory is ours," he said.
Some who attended the meeting while speaking on condition of anonymity said Rahul also met district unit chiefs of Mumbai, office bearers, corporators and others separately to elicit their views on the functioning of the organisation and the state government.
"Rahul also met party workers separately without the presence of Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Mohan Prakash (AICC in-charge of the state) and Manikrao Thakre (state unit chief). Workers complained against Chavan's style of functioning and lamented that the chief minister had not made appointments to state-run corporations and boards," a source said.
When MP Eknath Gaikwad and his daughter Varsha, a cabinet minister in the state, complained about the delay in implementation of the Dharavi re-development project, Rahul called Chavan to the room.
Chavan explained that allowing private developers to execute the project would leave little space with the government on which dwellings could be constructed for the locals. The chief minister said by making state-run MHADA the nodal agency additional 20,000 tenements can be built for the locals. Rahul, sources said, was satisfied by Chavan's explanation.
Some office bearers also disapproved of appointment of Mohan Prakash as the All India Congress Committee in-charge of the state as he had been critical of Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi during his stint with the Janata Dal.
Rahul heard out the workers and asked them to have trust in him.
Promising to instill discipline in the party, he said, "We cannot displease everyone. But discipline is a must and we will enforce it politely."