The Congress embarked upon a new journey in the state, adopting the new zonal system under Faizabad MP Nirmal Khatri as he took over as the new president of the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC) in Lucknow on Tuesday.
Besides announcing the UPCC's split into eight zones, Khatri gave a lesson or two to party leaders on the new work culture to be adopted by disciplining slogan-shouters and not going for a traditional roadside welcome.
Speaking at a function organised at UPCC headquarters to welcome him, he asserted that Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi's efforts in the 2012 assembly election would not go waste and show results in the 2014 Lok Sabha poll.
Dispelling the impression that there were no gains for Congress, he said, "this is only the half truth. The Congress did not perform badly.
" Its vote percentage went up by 3% in 2012 against the 2007 elections. Both the Congress and Samajwadi Party's vote share went up. The BSP and the BJP's vote share went down," he said in the presence of of senior party leaders, including his predecessor Rita Bahuguna Joshi, union ministers Salman Khurshid, Sriprakash Jaiswal and Jitin Prasada who had gathered there.
"Our leader is not responsible if the party failed to convert crowds into votes. The people did not vote for us because we did not show the people our organisational strength...Rahul Gandhi's hard work in the 2007 assembly election benefited the Congress in the 2009 Lok Sabha poll. His hard work in 2012 will show results in the 2014 parliamentary elections," said Khatri.
He also justified the UPCC's split into eight zones; saying running the party affairs of such a large state was not possible for a single person.
"These zonal presidents will work with full powers. Their first task will be to revamp the party organisation in their respective zones. We will allocate the zones to these eight leaders in the next few weeks," he said.
As Khatri was delivering his maiden address, a section of party leaders indulged in slogan shouting. The new state Congress chief had to discipline them again and again.
Instead of going for all-out attacks on the opposition, the party would have to introspect, he suggested.
"We will be stranded if we do not introspect now," he said and asked party workers not to indulge in any tokenism by burning 'effigies' of leaders of other parties.
He also gave clear signals to the partymen that there was no need to remain soft towards the ruling Samajwadi Party that was extending support to the UPA government at the centre.
He gave the example of West Bengal where he said the party leaders had been agitating against any injustice by the state government though the Congress was an alliance partner there.
The party workers needed no permission for an agitation if they were raising an issue of public interest, he said, adding it was with the support of party workers that he decided to break the tradition of holding a roadside welcome while assuming office as the UPCC president.