Congress to plan poll strategy, bridge communication gap
Hit by a series of corruption charges over the past year, the Congress will take a hard look at bridging the communication gap between the party and the government while formulating its strategy for the 2014 general election at a crucial meet Friday, party sources said.
Billed as an informal Samvad Baithak (brainstorming session) to be held at Surajkund, just outside Delhi, the meeting will discuss how to create better synergy between the Congress and the United Progressive Alliance government.
"There are communication gaps within the layers of the party and also between the party and the government...the meeting will try to bridge the gaps," a senior Congress leader told IANS on condition of anonymity.
"This would be key to the strategy we formulate for the next general election," he said.
A case in point is the difference between the government and the Congress over amendments to the RTI Act as well as party chief Sonia Gandhi's unhappiness over the way the party's lower rung countered the opposition attack related to faulty allocation of coal mines during the July-August monsoon session of parliament.
The party leaders acted only after Sonia Gandhi's sudden aggression surprised friends and foes alike in the Lok Sabha.
The Friday meeting assumes significance as it comes shortly after the third and the biggest cabinet rejig on Oct 28 since the UPA-II government returned to power in 2009.
Hopefully, it would be the last reshuffle before the general election, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said that day.
Besides the Congress's top leadership, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, party chief Sonia Gandhi and general secretary Rahul Gandhi, the meeting would be attended by members of the all-powerful Congress Working Committee, the party's highest decision making body, who are general secretaries in charge of states, cabinet ministers and ministers of state with independent charge.
The meeting will brainstorm on the future course of action for the remaining one-and-a- half years left for the government before it hits the next general election, which is not ruled out in 2013.
"We have to look at the entire political canvas and find out where we have been lacking, where we need to push hard and where we need to rebutt the opposition," a CWC member, who did not wish to be named, told IANS.
As part of the brainstorming, the Congress will also review how the government has fared on the promises made by the party to the people during the 2009 general election.
For instance, the big ticket National Food Security Bill is still in the works.
The meeting will also discuss the current political situation and the economic challenges before the country, Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said recently.
Congress sources said while the performance of the various flagship social welfare schemes started by the UPA government are doing well in Congress-ruled states, there are a lot of problems in their implementation in the opposition-run states.
The meet is being described in Congress circles as a "review-cum-strategy" session.
Sources said while this discussion would enable the leadership to identify the gaps in the implementation of the party manifesto being implemented in the form of various welfare schemes, it would also provide a road map for the rejigged cabinet before the party hits the next general elections in 2014.
Congress sources said it was high time the party and the government took stock of things as both should be ready for Lok Sabha polls any time.
"If we are in a poll mode, a roadmap for the next general election has to be worked out now," said another Congress general secretary, on condition of anonymity.
(Amit Agnihotri can be contacted firstname.lastname@example.org)