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Mumbai: Rahul digs deep to set Cong's house in order

Last updated on: April 27, 2012 19:05 IST

Mumbai: Rahul digs deep to set Cong's house in order

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Vrushali Lad in Mumbai

A series of meetings attended by Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi with young party activists, block and district presidents in Mumbai threw up several criticisms against the incumbent Congress government in Maharashtra and its ministers, reports Vrushali Lad.

Even before he reached Mumbai, one look at Rahul Gandhi's itinerary for Mumbai made one thing abundantly clear -- in an attempt to set right several wrongs that the Congress party has been guilty of in the running of Maharashtra state, Gandhi was looking to meet a cross-section of the Congress party.

He started his Mumbai visit with a meeting of delegates from the National Students Union of India and the Youth Congress at Bhaidas Hall in suburban Ville Parle, in which he got a fair idea of what both the organisations are currently up to in Maharashtra, and what their demands are.

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Image: Rahul Gandhi shakes hands with young Congress workers during a function in Mumbai on Friday
Photographs: Sahil Salve
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Gandhi's speech to the assembled youngsters of his party was said to be an inspiring and fiery one. Exhorting the youth to enter politics in large numbers, he is reported to have said that the politics of the country will not progress without the active participation of the youth, since their enthusiasm could bring several long-term goals to fruition.

He also expressed hope that the Youth Congress will soon get several more youngsters in its fold.

Gandhi also told the assembled workers that if they ever faced any administrative issue or needed a clearer perspective on things, they must not hesitate to go to their party seniors.

"Go to your chief minister for help," he reportedly added.


Image: Rahul Gandhi addresses Youth Congress and NSUI workers in Mumbai on Friday. The meeting was also attended by Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan and MPCC chief Manikrao Thakre among others
Photographs: Sahil Salve

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The recent civic elections in Mumbai were a lesson for the Congress in several ways -- the beating the party's image took was not limited only to its debilitating losses across the city, but also to a string of fights within party ranks for tickets.

With its coalition partner in the state, the Nationalist Congress Party, the state Congress faced several bouts of rebellion and loss of prime candidates to other parties, ultimately exposing a clear lack of planning and a bigger lack of damage control exercises on the part of the Congress.


Image: Rahul Gandhi speaks with CM Chavan during a conference at Ville Parle, Mumbai on Friday
Photographs: Sahil Salve

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Indirectly addressing these lacunae, Gandhi told the assembled workers that if they ever faced any administrative issue or needed a clearer perspective on things, they must not hesitate to go to their party seniors.

But his next meeting, held with party block and district presidents at Tilak Bhavan in Dadar, had a different complexion altogether.


Image: Rahul listens to a member of the audience during a gathering at Ville Parle, Mumbai on Friday
Photographs: Sahil Salve

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Here, Gandhi chose to listen and make notes rather than contribute his own opinions. The meeting encouraged the block and district Congress presidents to come out and put forth their reservations and criticisms about the way the party was running the state.

Some of the comments made centred around how the government was often slow in making decisions and implementing them, how ministers often did not spare adequate time for meetings and surprisingly, why joining hands with the NCP as a coalition ally was not a good idea in their particular districts.


Image: Rahul Gandhi visits B R Ambedkar's memorial Chaityabhoomi at Dadar, Mumbai with other Congress leaders, on Friday
Photographs: Sahil Salve
Tags: NCP , Congress

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Incumbent Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee chief Manikrao Thakre took the floor for a good 25 minutes -- sources say he could soon be on his way out as the MPCC chief -- while state chief minister Prithviraj Chavan also addressed the meeting for about 10 minutes.

However, this particular meeting was significant because in the past, Gandhi has interacted with office bearers and the common man during his rallies, but never directly with the middle rungs of the party.

 


Image: Rahul Gandhi is seen with Manikrao Thakre entering Chaityabhoomi on Friday
Photographs: Sahil Salve

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Gandhi's Mumbai outing has been structured in an interesting fashion -- after the meeting with the lower rungs of the party, he is scheduled to meet MPs, MLAs and corporators in a late evening meeting at India Gymkhana, Matunga.

This should help him get a good sense of the way things are across all party cadres, a sound move before the rumoured re-jig of the Congress takes place in Maharashtra in the coming days.


Image: Rahul Gandhi at Chaityabhoomi on Friday
Photographs: Sahil Salve

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