The first whiff of change is beginning to be felt in the AICC with Rahul Gandhi’s induction as general secretary. From now on, there will be no long-winded treatises or delayed reactions on important issues. The Amethi MP wants things to be short, snappy and quick. He wants them spelt out as “talking points” and “bullets” in booklets so that they are easily understood by people in general and party workers in particular and get across effectively to the media.
Rahul favoured this approach when the party’s newly-constituted publicity and publications committee met for the first time on Wednesday in the backdrop of speculation of mid-term polls and a series of assembly elections, including the one in Gujarat, due in the near future. “He came up with a new and fresh approach,’’ said a member.
The panel, which will meet again on October 23, identified some key issues on which the party’s stand would be disseminated to workers and the masses.
According to Digvijay Singh, AICC general secretary in-charge of the panel, the party plans to bring out such booklets on issues like the Sethusamudram canal project, 60 years of Independence, achievements of the UPA government, comparative allocations for development projects in the last three years of NDA rule and the first three years of the UPA's tenure. The party has already come out with a booklet on the India-US nuclear deal. Add to these a slew of pro-people measures the Manmohan Singh government is coming out with, and the panel has its tasks cut out.
On the Sethusamudram controversy, for example, the objective would be to expose the BJP-VHP, which are now making an issue of the project though they were silent when the NDA government had cleared it. The Department of Policy Planning and Coordination (Depco) will provide the key inputs in this regard and the party’s stand on issues will also be put on its website.
The main focus of the 90-minute meeting was on putting in place a mechanism for quick responses and effective coordination between Depco, the media and computer departments and the party’s mouthpiece Congress Sandesh — the four key publicity departments represented on the panel. “Our response to issues has to be quick,’’ said a functionary.
The Gujarat election was not discussed at the meeting but Rahul is expected to campaign in the BJP-ruled state. Party spokesperson Jayanti Natarajan said the Congress would decide at the right time on how to deploy its leaders, including Rahul, who is a “youth icon”.
Besides Rahul, Digvijay Singh and convenor Mukul Wasnik, the panel includes Union Ministers Anand Sharma and Jairam Ramesh, Jagdish Tytler, Nirmal Khatri, Mohan Prakash, Veerappa Moily, Vishwajit Singh and Anil Shastri.