Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has decided to devote time in strengthening the state unit of the Congress party, while focusing on transparent administration and good governance.
As the first step, Chavan and state party chief Manikrao Thakre will travel to all districts in January and February during the party's Janjagaran Abhiyan (awareness campaign).
Thakre said, "The state unit has already discussed the modalities of the proposed Abhiyan. The objective is to retaliate opposition charges with regard to corruption, misappropriation of funds and favouritism. During the proposed campaign the party will reach out to a large number of people and party members apprising them of the work done by the central and state governments since the United Progressive Alliance came to power in 2004. Public meetings will be addressed in all 288 assembly constituencies. The chief minister has agreed to attend meetings in almost all districts."
Chavan's move to give priority to build the party organisation is crucial because so far he has been seen as a leader who lacks mass support. Since his entered politics in 1991 after winning the Lok Sabha poll, Chavan has been associated with national politics.
The chief minister now wants to reach out to the maximum number of party workers and the masses to silence his critics within the party. He confirmed his plan to extensively tour the state and address public meetings.
Chavan said Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi will be on a four-day visit to the state and hold rallies.
Moreover, Chavan's decision to closely associate with state party functionaries is aimed at sending a message among the party rank and file that the government and the party are working in tandem and coordinated efforts between the two would help both to consolidate their respective positions in the state.
A senior state party functionary said, "Chavan, who is a known baiter of NCP chief and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, will not leave any opportunity to increase the Congress party's presence in districts and towns where the organisation has performed poorly"
The Congress leader said Chavan would drive home the point that consolidation of the party organisation by regaining the support of traditional voters will be crucial to take on the NCP.
Even though the party has won 80 seats in the last assembly elections and 17 during the Lok Sabha polls, it has very little presence in several districts. On the other hand, NCP is spreading its wings through planned moves.