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'Congress should fight state polls alone'

india Updated: Jun 23, 2008 02:09 IST
Saroj Nagi
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The congress should not enter into alliances for assembly elections, the AK Antony Committee, formed to suggest ways for re-energising the party, has recommended.

The seven-member panel constituted early this month after the Congress’s defeat in the Karnataka elections submitted its report to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Saturday night. The panel’s recommendation stems from the realisation that state-level alliances have often proved to be a bane, as in UP where the party is yet to recover from adverse effects of a tie-up with the BSP in the 1990s.

The report is unanimous, brief — about five or six pages — and makes 42 recommendations to re-energise the party for the next round of assembly and Lok Sabha polls following a string of electoral defeats. The report will be discussed at the CWC and next month’s chintan shivir.

The panel is against the projection of a CM candidate — an issue of debate amid reports that its failure to do so contributed to its electoral reverses in states like Gujarat or Karnataka where its rivals had given the people a clear choice. But such a projection, it was felt, takes away the MLAs’ right to choose their leader while threatening to fuel poll-time sabotage.

The panel favoured early declaration of assembly and Lok Sabha candidates but realised it may not be practical lest it encourages sabotage.

The “one man one post” principle was flagged, especially with regard to poll-bound states.

In the existing AICC set up, already busy ministers like Prithviraj Chavan are saddled with party work and given charge of three election-going states, including J&K.

The report suggests ways to tone up the organisation, build unity, fix responsibility, deal sternly with factionalism, hammer out effective campaign strategies, broaden base by involving frontal organisations, rally oldtimers and old guard, and woo communities and sections, particularly the youth. “The participation should be from below to create a sound base for the party,” said a leader, adding the Congress’s pro-poor image and UPA's achievements need to be aggressively highlighted.

Often drawn from the unimplemented portions of the Antony report of the ’90s, the latest recommends involving local units in candidate selection, fixing a waiting period before giving tickets to those who quit parties to join Congress and allotting tickets to deserving candidates instead of giving them to leaders for distribution among supporters as had happened in faction-ridden states like Gujarat.