Disconnect between party and people, factionalism and the level of preparedness for the assembly elections later this year - dominated the deliberations of state leaders with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on the first day of his two-day visit to Madhya Pradesh.
Gandhi, who landed in Mohankheda (100 km west of Indore) on Wednesday morning, is understood to have asked the party’s leadership in the state to get its organisational structure fighting-fit in the next three months.
As a first step towards this, he assured the delegates to announce the name of candidates for the forthcoming assembly elections by July-August so that it provides them enough time to prepare.
Gandhi, who reached Mohankheda along with state Congress president Kantilal Bhuria, interacted with MPs, MLAs, former MPs, former MLAs and all those who contested the 2008 assembly elections from 14 Lok Sabha constituencies.
Local Congress leaders from Mandsaur, Jhabua, Dhar, Indore and Ujjain beseeched him to “end groupism” in the party – which, they said, was damaging the organisation’s core. According to sources, many leaders complained of the disconnect between the party, people and the organization.
“He talked and invited suggestions on how to improve the party’s position in the state and mostly spoke on policy matters,” said a delegate from Dhar. “There was absolutely no discussion on party candidates or probable nominees,” he added. Similar views were echoed by representatives from Indore.
The party delegates also raised the demand of contesting the panchayat elections on party symbols for getting the advantage.
Gandhi, soon after arrival, went to a Jain temple and offered prayers for about 20 minutes. In 2001, his mother Sonia Gandhi had also visited the temple and sought blessings from Jain priests.
After that, till about 12:30 he met party delegates and heard them out. He is also scheduled to address the Youth Congress executive council meeting which is currently underway at Mohankheda.
Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh, leader of the Opposition in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly Ajay Singh, state Youth Congress president Priyavrat Singh, Union power minister Jyotiraditya Scindia and AICC general secretary in-charge of Madhya Pradesh BK Hariprasad received Gandhi at Mohankheda.
On Thursday, the Congress vice president will interact with delegates from the remaining 15 constituencies in Bhopal.