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Congress plenary passes being sold for Rs 325!

Last updated on: December 18, 2010 01:51 IST

Congress plenary passes being sold for just Rs 325!

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Renu Mittal in New Delhi

On the eve of the All India Congress Committee plenary session, the buzz at the party's headquarters on 24 Akbar Road is how the special invitee passes to attend the plenary are being virtually 'sold' for Rs 325 per head to almost anyone who is interested in paying up and attending.

Interestingly, this is not being done surreptitiously or secretly but is a decision taken by senior AICC general secretaries who feel there is nothing wrong with the practice. This though is a first of its kind move by the AICC leaders.

The Rs 325 being collected is for the subscription of the Congress mouthpiece, Congress Sandesh, which is brought out monthly by the AICC.

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Money is also being taken from the Pradesh Congress Committee delegates who are coming to collect their entry passes as well as the AICC members who have to pay Rs 725 (The party is asking the AICC members to shell out more money in the form of party donation). Unless this is done, passes are not being given.

It is learnt that the decision to dole out the special invitee passes was taken by Oscar Fernandes in consultation with Motilal Vora and Janardan Dwivedi with sources saying that Fernandes had come in for a great deal of flak as a large number of AICC members and PCC delegates have complained to senior party leaders at what was happening in the party.

It is also learnt that there were sharp exchanges on the issue between senior leaders, many of whom felt that this would lead to a situation where anyone and everyone would be able to attend the plenary.


Image: Rahul with Oscar Fernandes

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On paper, there is a committee headed by Oscar Fernandes to decide on this, but practically it was visible that people were taking passes without much scrutiny.

Along with this AICC general secretary in charge of Bihar also issued a circular that PCC delegates from the state would not be able to attend the session, as organizational elections had not been held there and because the PCC stood dissolved.

But interestingly, the AICC members from Bihar -- who had also not been elected -- had been invited and even PCC delegates from other states like Tamil Nadu where organizational elections had not been held had also been invited.

A senior Congress leader said Mukul Wasnik and his supporters were obviously apprehensive that the Bihar contingent would target them during the plenary and raise the issue of how tickets were sold during the state elections and create disturbance in the session.


Image: Congress leader Mukul Wasnik

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After members raised a hue and cry, it has now been decided to allow them to attend.

Whether these delegates would stand up and voice their grievances remains to be seen, since Congress has now reduced itself to a party where discussion and dissent have become a thing of the past and even the highest decision making body of the congress the working committee has been marginalized and made into an ineffective tool with most of the decision taken by just a few leaders in the core committee.

It remains to be seen whether the Congress leadership is interested in hearing the views of its grass root workers and those who work on the ground or whether the party managers again conduct an orchestrated exercise and call only those who will sing praises of the leadership as has been happening in the past.

After the defeat in Bihar, the hostile atmosphere both within and outside the party and the huge flak the government and party are facing over corruption and scams, the party is not expected to come out with any new line or formulation in terms of its policies and politics but is expected to continue with the same middle of the road approach.

This would include their thinking on coalitions with the party not expected to plug for the ekla chalo (go alone) line, which was briefly glimpsed in the AICC meeting held just a month ago.



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While the party has been unable to defend coherently Rahul Gandhi's utterances on majority Hindu terror in his conversations with the US ambassador, the texts of which have been leaked by WikiLeaks, it is expected that Rahul himself would defend what he has said along with other party leaders since much of it is being seen to be out of context.

The Congress president is expected to take strong line on corruption in her opening remarks besides talking on the double standards of the BJP and RSS.

An agitation programme would also be announced to counter the BJP propaganda against the Congress.

On the second day of the plenary, the prime minister is expected to speak and it is for the first time that he would reveal his mind on the ongoing controversies, the corruption scams hitting his government and how he intends to handle it.



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