M A I N   N E W S

AICC to run UP show
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 2
Finding the party in Uttar Pradesh in a shambles, the AICC has decided to step in and take charge.

It is the party’s perception that UP Pradesh Congress Committee (UPPCC) President Jagdambika Pal and CLP leader Pramod Tiwari have failed to enthuse the cadres or stamp out the infighting in the state party unit.

Throwing up its hands in despair, the AICC has decided not to depend on the state leadership to lead the party in this make-or-break Lok Sabha poll. Instead of going in for last-minute changes in leadership, the AICC has taken over the reins of the state unit.

With less than two months to go for the Lok Sabha poll, the AICC has taken charge and set up four regional election offices in Lucknow, Ghaziabad, Gorakhpur and Allahabad. These offices, Congress insiders explained, would function as the PCC camp offices and take charge of the party organisation and supervise the election campaign.

Each of these regional offices will be headed by an AICC nominee. The Allahabad office is to be headed by AICC leader Saifuddin Soz while Dr Jyothi of the AICC SC/ST cell will be in charge of the Ghaziabad unit. The others are still to be named, it was stated.

In addition, the party will draw up a list of 40 AICC observers, each of whom will be given charge of two parliamentary constituencies of the state. At the same time, the PCC has been asked to constitute a panel of 80 observers who are to be entrusted with the charge of one constituency each. The AICC observers have been given powers to take all decisions with regards to the election management and the campaign.

Since the state unit is so hopelessly divided, the AICC has decided to constitute a 25-30 member campaign committee in each parliamentary constituency instead of having an omnibus committee for the entire state. “The whole purpose is to ensure that every important person in the constituency is involved in the election in some way or the other,” a UP Congress leader said.

“It is true that it is the AICC which is now running the show in Lucknow,” admitted a senior Congress leader ruefully. UPPCC leaders have a minimal role in the state affairs since they are perceived to be playing factional politics, besides the fact that they have not been able to build a cohesive team in the state.

In fact, UPPCC chief Jagdambika Pal has been in the firing line of the AICC, for more than one reason. The party Central leadership is unhappy over the factional battles which erupted during Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s recent roadshow in eastern UP.

More recently, a furious Central leadership issued a statement disowning Mr Pal’s public remark that BSP chief Mayawati ought to be in jail. Angry party leaders said such remarks were uncalled for, especially since the party was still hoping to tieup with the BSP and Mrs Gandhi and the party were being extremely cautious in their response to the BSP chief’s public utterances. 


Cong, NCP talks inconclusive
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 2
The marathon discussions between the Congress and the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) over seat sharing remained inconclusive tonight.

Nevertheless, both sides were hopeful that they would be able to wrap up the negotiations within a couple of days as neither camp felt the need to rush through the dialogue. That the talks are on track was evident from Mr Pawar’s disclosure that the NCP and Congress may go in for a joint campaign in Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur and Aurangabad.

Sources in both camps maintained that they had come close to finalising the division of the 48 Lok Sabha seats of Maharashtra but the talks had got stuck over allocation of seven seats. The Congress is likely to get 24 seats while the NCP’s share will be 18 seats. In addition, three seats are being left for the three factions of the RPI while one will go to Janata Dal (S).

The third round of talks were held at Mr Pawar’s residence and was attended by several senior AICC leaders, including Mr Pranab Mukherjee and Mr Ahmed Patel, who were accompanied by Maharshtra Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and PCC chief Ranjit Deshmukh.

That both sides are driving a hard bargain can be gauged from the fact that the three-hour meeting in the evening was preceded by an equally lengthy consultation of Maharashtra leaders at Mr Mukherjee’s residence.

It was stated that the two sides were unable to clinch a deal at today’s discussions as the NCP was insisting on a “total package” on the seats it wants in Maharashtra and other states. The NCP, on its part, wants a share in other states, including West Bengal, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Goa and Rajasthan. The Congress has sought more time to decide these details, NCP leader Praful Patel indicated after the meeting.Back

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