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Cong planning UP convention
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 11
The Congress is making a valiant attempt to galvanise its cadres and strengthen the party organisation. After party president Sonia Gandhi’s roadshow in Uttar Pradesh, Congress strategists are now planning a grand convention of presidents of all District Congress Committees (DCCs), also in the same state.

Congress sources said the proposed convention could be held either this month or in February and had been planned with an eye on the coming Lok Sabha elections. They said the basic purpose of assembling all the DCC presidents ahead of the polls was essentially to motivate the party workers.

Uttar Pradesh has been deliberately chosen as the venue for this convention. It follows the realisation in the Congress that the party organisation is really weak in this state, which is crucial for the General Election. As it is often said, whoever controls Uttar Pradesh, controls Delhi. With 80 Lok Sabha MPs to be elected from Uttar Pradesh itself, no political party can afford to overlook the state of its party organisation here.

For more than a decade now, the Congress has been going steadily downhill in UP with its vote share having come down to a mere 6 per cent. Its traditional vote base of upper castes, Dalits and minorities has gradually shifted to the BJP, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP).

Besides the erosion in its vote base, the Congress organisation in Uttar Pradesh has also weakened substantially. The party Central leadership has made several remedial measures, including periodic changes in the presidentship of the pradesh Congress committee, but to little avail. In order to gain more visibility and to galvanise its workers, the Congress President had embarked on an ambitious roadshow in the state . Having begun in Western UP, she will soon tour the entire state by road.

The situation in UP might be particularly bad for the Congress but it is no better in the other states. In fact, the Pranab Mukherjee committee, which analysed the results of the recent Assembly elections, found that the party organisation had been substantially weakened in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. The report revealed that in MP, for instance, the party organisation was virtually non-existent at the district and block levels. The chief ministers, it was stated, were over-dependent on the bureacuracy and there was no attempt to involve the party in the projection of the government’s development works. This was particularly so in Chhattisgarh where there was no party organisation and it was the chief minister and his trusted bureaucrats, who were running the show. In Rajasthan, the legislators were given over-arching powers at the expense of the party workers.

After the recent election results, the Congress is making a conscious effort to tone up its party machinery. In her effort to enthuse the workers, the Congress president is expected to keep up a punishing schedule. Besides her tour of Uttar Pradesh, she is also slated to visit Punjab on January 15 for a panchayat sammelan in Bathinda which will be followed by tours to Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.



Sonia raps BJP on origin issue

Meerut, January 11
Lashing out at the BJP for repeatedly raking up the issue of her foreign origin, Congress President Sonia Gandhi today said all she cared was for the people of the country and not for such criticism.

“I don’t know why these people (BJP workers) are afraid of a woman. I don’t care. I just care for the people,” she told reporters here, reacting to BJP’s criticism about her foreign origin. — PTI


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