Gearing up for the 2014 Lok Sabha battle, Rahul Gandhi today warned Congress leaders against groupism and told them that coordination and cooperation is the key to success.
In his first formal interaction with newly-appointed party office-bearers, seen as his team to meet future challenges, Gandhi told them in no uncertain terms that accountability will follow responsibility.
He also felt there was something amiss in the functioning of the outgoing party set-up, sources said.
With a series of assembly polls due this year and Lok Sabha elections by May next, Gandhi said the AICC set-up should project a picture of a united family where the young give respect to elders and draw from their experience.
He said the general secretaries should prepare a roadmap for the states under their charge and the secretaries should visit the district and block levels as per the plan.
The Congress Vice President, who has frequently talked about the system being closed to youngsters, asked the leaders to help open it up.
AICC secretaries, who had in earlier meetings with Gandhi, complained of not having been given adequate responsibilities, have been given the charge this time and they will have to do lot of touring of the states.
Seeking to put the house in order, Gandhi said factionalism is detrimental to the party's interests and should be shunned.
The Congress Vice President also chose the occassion to flag the issue of inadequate representation to women in the AICC and other party wings.
The trigger was a remark by AICC general secretary Luizinho Falerio, who is the in-charge of party affairs in North Eastern states, that he is looking after the seven sisters.
"But we have only six sisters here," Gandhi said referring to the presence of party general secretary Ambika Soni and five secretaries adding that in two-three years, 50 percent of the office-bearers will be women.
Ambika Soni is the only woman among the 12 AICC general secretaries appointed in the latest AICC reshuffle while there are only five women among 44 secretaries.
"Gandhi talked about how to ensure 50 per cent representation to women in AICC...It's not about reservation.
It's about their representation.
"When he observed that their (women) presence is not in the proportion it should be, he said the presence of women is less but it will definitely be 50 per cent in the coming two-three years," party spokesperson Bhakta Charan Das told reporters after the meeting.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi's Political Secretary Ahmed Patel did not attend the meeting. A senior party leader Patel was unwell.
Before the meeting today, the Congress Vice President had met AICC general secretaries and secretaries one by one in the last few days.
In the latest AICC reshuffle, Gandhi is learnt to have personaly interviewed the new secretaries and detailed verifications were carried out about their work. 15-odd AICC secretaries were dropped in the reshuffle.
The reshuffled AICC now wears a younger look with 52 being the average age of office bearers.
Invoking Mahatma Gandhi, the Congress vice president emphasised on the need to connect the party with masses and directed party leaders to focus on strengthening the organisation more than anything else.
The issue of alliances was not discussed in the meeting, a party leader said, adding there was no mention of any other party or its leader during the interaction that lasted for more than two hours.
The newcomers thanked Gandhi for putting his trust in them and giving them responsibilities in the organisation.
"Trust begets trust and we should trust people," he said.