NEW DELHI: In a move that could curtail the powers of AICC general secretaries and state Congress chiefs, Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday directed the Congress Legislative Party leaders to report to him directly, not through the media.
This would in effect mean that AICC general secretaries and the state incharges, the powerful intermediaries between the Congress leadership and state units, will have their wings clipped in the coming days.
However, before such a system is put in place, the CLP leaders will have to meet senior Congress leader A K Antony. This is also to help Antony to organise a Kisan Samman rally -- a celebration of sorts of what the Congress sees as its success on the land acquisition front -- at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan by September-end. The government has withdrawn the land ordinance, against which the party had been campaigning. All these were discussed at Rahul’s meeting with the Congress Legislature Party leaders on Monday here.
The day-long meeting also focused on the problems the CLP leaders were facing in their states. The meeting took stock of the party’s membership drive, on which the Congress Working Committee will be briefed on Tuesday.
Rahul’s meeting with the CLP leaders, along with that of the organisational general secretary, Janardan Dwivedi, is indicative of this shift of responsibility and power from the Congress chief to the vice-president.
The CLP leaders, especially of Madhya Pardesh and Chhattisgarh – Satyadev Katare and T S Singh De – complained about their lack of access to the party vice-president. It was, therefore, decided that Rahul would interact with the CLP leaders every three months in a structured manner.
In the nine states, including Kerala and Karnataka, where the Congress is in power, Rahul called for better coordination between the party and the government.
And, where the Congress is in the Opposition, the CLP leaders were advised to step up agitations against the governments.
The Congress has been also concerned about the declining Central funding to social welfare measures, especially the previous government’s flagship rural employment guarantee scheme. Some steps to generate alternative funding from state revenue resources were also discussed at Monday’s meeting.
Sonia may Continue
When the Congress Working Committee, the highest decision making body of the party, meets on Tuesday, it is expected to take up a few amendments to the party constitution, one of which will enable Sonia Gandhi to continue as the party president.
The indication is that the much-anticipated change of guard is unlikely to be formalised at the meeting.
However, her term may be truncated from five to three years by when her successor, Rahul, would be “prepared” to formally take over the helms of the party.
Also, the meeting could merely adopt a resolution saying Sonia’s term shall be extended till the party’s membership drive is over.
It has been conclusively accepted that the membership exercise will not be over by December when her current tenure comes to an end. Sonia is one of the longest -serving presidents of the 125-year-old party.