The Congress on Tuesday embarked upon a new journey adopting the new zonal system under Faizabad MP Nirmal Khatri as he took over as new president of Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC) in Lucknow on Tuesday.
Besides announcing that UPCC's split into eight zones Khatri gave a lesson or two to party leaders on new work culture to be adopted and asserted that Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi's efforts in 2012 assembly elections would not go waste and show results in 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Khatri was speaking at a function organised at UPCC headquarters to welcome him. A large crowd of senior party leaders including outgoing UPCC president Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Union ministers Salman Khurshid, Sri Prakash Jaiswal, Jitin Prasada had gathered there.
Khatri used to occasion to dispel the impression that there were no gains for Congress in the 2012 assembly polls despite the large crowds turning up for Congress general Rahul Gandhi's public meetings.
"This is only half truth. The Congress did not perform badly in 2012 poll. Its vote percentage went up by 3% in 2012 against the 2007 elections. In 2012 the Congress and Samajwadi Party's vote share went up. The BSP and the BSP's vote share has gone down," he said.
Khatri obviously wanted to make his point that Rahul Gandhi was not responsible for the party's poor show in 2012 poll.
"Our leader is not responsible if the party failed to convert crowds into votes. The people did not vote for us because we did now show the people our organisational strength. Rahul Gandhi's hard work in 2007 assembly elections benefited the Congress in 2009 Lok Sabha polls. His hard work in 2012 will show results in 2014 assembly elections," said Khatri.
Khatri also justified the UPCC's split into eight zones saying running the party affairs for 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 organization 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. So, Khatri had to discipline them again and again. He gave indications of the new culture that the party would have to adopt now.
Khatri said instead of going for all out attacks against the opposition the party would have to introspect. "We will remain stranded where we are if we do not introspect now," said Khatri.
He also asked party workers not to indulge in any tokenism by burning effigy of leaders of other parties.
Khatri also gave clear signals to the partymen there was no need to remain soft towards the ruling Samajwadi Party that was extending support to the UPA government at the Centre. Khatri said such a question should not have been there.
Khatri gave example of West Bengal where he said the party leaders had been agitating against any injustice of the state government though the Congress was an alliance partner there.
Khatri said the party workers needed no permission for agitation if they were raising an issue of public interest.
Khatri said it was with the support of party workers that he decided to break the tradition of holding roadside welcome while assuming office as UPCC president.