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HindustanTimes Sat,01 Nov 2014

Congress poll ‘war room’ gets makeover

Saubhadra Chatterji, Hindustan Times  Delhi, May 26, 2013
First Published: 22:12 IST(26/5/2013) | Last Updated: 01:11 IST(27/5/2013)

As the Congress gears up for the big battle in 2014, its 'war room' is already getting a major makeover.

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15, Gurdwara Rakabganj Road, with its old-world white pillars and wide arches, will soon have a modern, corporate-style office for the party's think tank. The main Lutyens bungalow will remain intact but the additional rooms built around it are being razed to make way for two large halls. These halls will house cubicles with computer links and WiFi connectivity, audio-video conferencing facilities and other electronic gadgetry.

Entry will be through smart cards to keep track of visitors - an unusual feature in any political establishment.

"It would be like a professional office set-up," said a strategist who frequents the war room.

But it will take more than an architectural facelift to return to power next year, feels the Opposition. "A corporate-style office can only be a reflection of the party's pro-corporate policies. A political party's appeal lies in its policies and programmes, not the face of its office building," says CPI's Gurudas Dasgupta.

This building in a quiet part of central Delhi is the Congress' nerve centre. Since the party moved here before the 2009 elections from its much smaller 99, South Avenue property, 15, GRG Road has been a venue for important closed-door meetings and discussions on election strategy as well as major crisis facing the party. There have been quite a few of these lately, in the form of the many scams that have hit the Congress hard.

Rahul Gandhi is known to use the rooms here while seniors, such as Congress treasurer Motilal Vora, work mostly in the main bungalow, party insiders say.

Plans are also afoot to build a new party office in central Delhi. But that is years away and the war room will be functional for at least a few more years.


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