Stating the factors responsible for the party's failed comeback attempt in Punjab, a section of the Congressmen who on Friday met their national general secretary Rahul Gandhi here suggested him a bounce-back game plan-change the state leadership.
As the Dalit votes swung towards the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), wrong and delayed ticket distribution, failure to persuade the rebels, overconfidence, and factionalism also hurt the Congress in the last assembly elections, the feedback suggests. Apart from state Congress president captain Amarinder Singh, the detractors have blamed the member of parliament from Jalandhar and former state party chief, Mohinder Singh Kaypee, and former minister Chaudhary Jagjit Singh.
The workers charged the party's Dalit leaders with ignoring the community's interest to the party's detriment.
Former minister Ishar Singh Meharban reminded Rahul of the Pachmarhi resolution of allotting ticket three months before assembly contests. "The Akalis declared their candidates in time, while we kept on delaying it in violation of the Pachmarhi resolution," he said. "Besides, we failed to persuade the rebels to withdraw. The state party president should have been more accessible to workers."
If some of the Congressmen were critical of Amarinder's style of functioning and wanted to dethrone the erstwhile maharaja of Patiala from the party post, Kamaljit Ohri, member of the Kartarpur nagar council, even went to the extent of telling Rahul that the party couldn't come to power even in 100 years because of the "corrupt" practices of Amarinder and Jagjit Singh.
"The Dalit leaders in Congress working against the community's next-generation leaders, which is why the Dalit votes swung to the BSP and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)," said Sushil Rinku, a councillor. "Senior leaders who tried to scuttle my chances during municipal elections are sitting in this session."
When Rahul asked him to name the leaders, Rinku was reluctant. "Tell us freely," said Rahul. "I will protect you from victimisation." Rinku pointed finger at Kaypee and showered him with allegations. An embarrassed Kaypee denied the charges, and said Rinku had won the ticket on his recommendation only and that he had never worked against any party candidate.
The party's Ludhiana urban unit president, Pawan Dewan, talked about the control of the electronic media by the ruling combine for propaganda, and blamed the absence of some of the Rajya Sabha members from the campaign for the debacle. A section of participants also demanded more power to the party's state election committee, while affirming faith in Amarinder's leadership.
*Karwal Palace, which was venue of Rahul's interactive session in Adampur, belongs to Akali leader and Adampur market committee chairman Darshan Singh Karwal
*The session was in two rooms, and as Rahul switched between both to save time, his team got the next batch ready
* Rahul didn't take along any state Congress leader, and workers were happy to find an atmosphere for free and frank opinion
*Rahul emerged a good listener, and spoke little on Congressmen's submissions
*The media were kept away from Karwal Palace
*Punjab Congress president Amarinder Singh also met Rahul as part of the Patiala batch
*Traffic to Hoshiarpur was disrupted for about 30 minutes during Rahul's arrival in Adampur in the morning, as the police blocked the road for security reasons.
Rahul's feedback drive countrywide: Amarinder
Jalandhar: The Adampur interactive session of Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi was part of his countrywide feedback campaign to strengthen party units, state Congress president captain Amarinder Singh stated here on Friday, adding that it had nothing to do with his replacement.
Rahul had conducted similar exercises in Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir as well, while Punjab was third in the chain, said Amarinder. "The party workers and leaders in the state have participated in the sessions enthusiastically," he added. "It will rejuvenate us to take on the anti-people ruling combine of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)."
The morale of the workers and leaders was bolstered after the session, said the former chief minister. On his detractors using this opportunity to target his leadership, Amarinder said the session's objective was to review the reasons for party's defeat in last state elections and work out strategy for the Lok Sabha elections next.
"The state unit is united," he said. "This interactive exercise has nothing to do with my replacement as state unit president. I am a committed Congress solider and will continue to fight repressive policies of the Akali government. I have served the party in different capacities for 14 years since 1998, when I was appointed state Congress chief for the first time."