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Rahul's plans to revamp Congress make many leaders jittery

January 30, 2013 21:04 IST

Rahul has been pushing for greater democracy within the party, a suggestion frequently side swept by Sonia Gandhi, says Renu Mittal

Rahul Gandhi, the newly-appointed vice president of the Congress, has decided to take a hands-on approach in matters of the party.
Gandhi has decided to regularly interact with All India Congress Committee’s office bearers and staffers before he reshuffles the entire AICC team.

Gandhi will visit the AICC headquarters at 24 Akbar Road on Thursday to interact with the party’s office-bearers. Despite the overwhelming presence of the Special Protection Group and security concerns, Gandhi has decided to regularly visit the AICC headquarters, say party insiders.

Incidentally, his mother Sonia Gandhi preferred to hold all important meeting at her residence at 10 Janpath.

According to sources, Gandhi is already putting in place a set of rules and regulations, not only for the AICC but for the various Pradesh Congress Committees, as well as the Congress units at district and block levels.

Some veteran Congressmen are apprehensive about the implementation of Rahul’s pet issue -- his rules and regulations for those who have lost elections. If Gandhi has his way, those who have forfeited their deposit twice in a row would not be eligible for any post in the AICC or the PCC. The issue of leaders who have been defeated and still manage to get plum posts in party forums has been a matter of intense debate and heartburn within the Congress rank and file.

Interestingly, in the Chintan Shivir held in Rajasthan, there was a serious move to include a related clause in the final declaration. Some leaders wanted a clause that specified that  AICC office bearers, PCC presidents, district and block presidents should not contest elections. They would later be given seats in the Rajya Sabha and in various councils.

This proposal was opposed by Rahul Gandhi and some other Congressmen, who felt that those who contest elections can understand the issues and problems of the common man better. The management of the party cannot remain a mere academic exercise, they pointed out.

Gandhi has been pushing for greater democracy within the party, a suggestion frequently side swept by Sonia Gandhi, under whose tenure most of the elections to the Congress Working Committee were stopped. The flourishing of the nomination culture resulted in leaders -- who had no electoral experience and no connect with the grass-root -- flourishing in key party posts.

Experts believe that if Rahul can change the present set-up, it would help in representing grassroot-level workers and give a voice to those who fight and actually win elections.

Another proposal by Rahul suggests a five-year cooling off period for new entrants to the party. He feels that new entrants should be active members for five years and work for the party before they are given key posts in the organisation. This is likely to trigger dissent as many new entrants have been given charge of key states.

The observers sent for the Lok Sabha polls have also been asked to mention the number of times a prospective candidate has lost the elections and whether he/she forfeited their security deposit.

Special Character Reports are also being drawn up on those who have repeatedly walked out of the party and then made a comeback at the right opportunity.

Gandhi’s other priority is selecting new PCC presidents in Bihar, Maharashtra, Mumbai, Haryana, Orissa, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.

A number of senior leaders, who may not find a position in the party, will be shifted to the war room to manage the elections in ten states and the Lok Sabha polls next year.

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