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When Cong leaders had no clue about Kejriwal's expose

November 09, 2012 21:20 IST

Congress' Samvad Baithak (conclave meeting) at Surajkunad on Friday was a closed door affair, with no scope of any media coverage.  Our correspondent in New Delhi gets you the exclusive buzz of what transpired at the meet.

Before the meet started, Congress General Secretary Janardan Dwivedi asked Union ministers and other invitees to either switch off or deposit their mobile phones outside the meeting hall. Fort this, special provisions were made by the Special Protection Group to preserve the VVIPs phones. 

That instruction came as a blessing in disguise to many, because it prevented most of them from knowing what was happening in the outside world.

While Kejriwal was making his revelations about the issue of hawala money stashed in Swiss bank accounts, most of the Union ministers were standing at the buffet counter, deciding what to have for lunch!

Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi told the meeting that normalcy was returning in Jammu and Kashmir.

'Youths are taking a keen interest in employment', this was his observation from his recent visit to Srinagar. Quite a few ministers thumped their desks in approval.

Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh did not speak at the Baithek. Since there were many southern leaders, Jairam replied in Tamil to a Union minister.

The general impression in Surajkund was that Ramesh was the main speech writer for Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul. Price rise and the LPG cylinder issue dominated the Conclave's interactive session.

The general feeling at the conclave was that the number for LPG cylinders should be raised to 12 from 6, and fanfare around the Union Budget should be avoided. The first speaker at the conclave was Sonia, followed by the prime minister.

According to an insider, Finance Minister P Chidambaram repeated the same brief speech that he had made at the Union Council of minister's meet on November 1.There was nothing new to attract the attention of the All India Congress committee leaders.

Out of the 69 attendees, 36 spoke at the meeting. The only absentee was newly-appointed Union Minister of State for Tourism Chiranjeevi. 

The message that was strongly conveyed to the Union ministers by the AICC was this: It is high time that the government understands public sentiments.

'If UPA-III is to be attempted, perform well' – this was what the AICC conveyed to the government.

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Vishwa Hindu Parishad were the often-repeated words used by AICC speakers who are not Union ministers.

No one representing Andhra Pradesh spoke. Union Science and Technology Minister S Jaipal Reddy was literarily sidelined in Surajkund -- He did not utter a word.

Environment Minister Jayanti Natarajan, Chidambaram and Shipping Minister G K Vasan spoke at length about their ministries.

Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh's speech was fiery, though he didn't mention Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi once and instead criticised senior Congress leaders.

Insiders commented that they could see a complete divide between the AICC and the Union ministers. Broadly, the speakers focused on the performance of the government.

The most common complaint was that members of Parliament found it difficult to meet their respective Union ministers.

Sonia said that senior ministers should note down this aspect and redress their pleas.

A correspondent in New Delhi