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Rahul to meet state Cong leaders to review poll readiness

February 07, 2013 23:08 IST

To make the Congress party fighting fit for the next elections, a number of changes are likely to take place after the vice president’s meeting with state and PCC leaders. Renu Mittal reports

Even as the media and the chatterati are in shock and awe of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s Delhi debut, the Congress party has refused to take notice of him and is focusing on its organisational matters before the general elections next year.

After three days of marathon meetings with the All India Congress Committee office bearers to take stock of the organisation, the party’s vice president Rahul Gandhi will now meet Congress Legislative Party leaders and Pradesh Congress Committee presidents on February 15 in Delhi.

During his AICC meeting he had expressed a desire to hold similar meetings with the office bearers at the PCC, district and block level to get a firsthand report on the state of the party, and interact with leaders at the grass-root level.

While senior leaders said such an extensive exercise may not be possible, it has now been decided to have a truncated version of the PCC meetings. The CLP leaders and PCC presidents have been called to Delhi to give feedback on their states.

This year itself 10 assemblies are going to polls, which include Nagaland, Tripura, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Karnataka, New Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.

Rahul is keen to interact with state leaders since a number of chief ministers and PCCs are under the scanner. Changes are in the offing to make the party fighting fit for the elections.

A number of PCC presidents may be replaced; amongst them are leaders from Bihar, Punjab, Jharkhand, Odisha, Maharashtra, Mumbai Regional Congress Committee, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal -- there has been a lot of deal in new the appointments. Sources say one of the reasons for the delay is the wait for the A K Antony Committee report which has been set up to deal with alliances. The report will identify in which states the party can manage new allies and the state of the current allies will determine who will become the PCC president, said a senior party leader.

While there are huge complaints against some of the chief ministers, sources say Rahul will have a say in their continuance and the decisions are likely to be taken once all aspects are factored in.

In the meeting with the PCC presidents and CLP leaders, Rahul is expected to focus on how ready they are to face the elections and what is the level of work done by the state governments (wherever the party is in power) both in terms of central schemes and their own state programmes and initiatives.

While sections of the Congress are hopeful of a polarisation and the shifting of the Muslim vote towards the Congress in the event of Narendra Modi being projected as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, the party has other concerns which it needs to put right before the elections.

One such problem is the pro-Akali Dal faction's sweep of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee elections in Delhi with the Sikh vote clearly moving toward the Akalis instead of the Congress. With the drop in the image and credibility of Dr Manmohan Singh, it is being felt that the Sikhs are looking to move away from the Congress party.

For the Congress, there are big pockets and states where they have lost their base and moorings and cannot think of contesting elections. But there are also smaller pockets where the party will face problems in the elections and it is these small issues which the party is now looking to correct to ensure it does not drop too many existing seats.

Renu Mittal in New Delhi