New Delhi: In the first major poll exercise after the party’s drubbing in recent Assembly elections, Rahul Gandhi on Friday held a strategy session with top leaders and Chief Ministers of 12 Congress-ruled states to make the party fighting fit for the Lok Sabha polls.
The day-long exercise that commenced in the morning saw full attendance of Congress Chief Ministers along with senior leaders A K Antony, Sushilkumar Shinde, P Chidambaram, Ahmed Patel, Jairam Ramesh, Digvijay Singh, Janardan Dwivedi, Kapil Sibal and K B Thomas.
Having lost the polls in Delhi and Rajasthan, Congress is currently in power in 12 states— Manipur, Mizoram, Assam, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, Arunachal Pradesh, Kerala and Meghalaya. With the election defeats rankling in memory, the party is keen to work out the strategy to retain the states where it is in power at present as there seems little possibility of it doing very well in the states already ruled by BJP as the Assembly elections showed.
While BJP bettered its performance in Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led Madhya Pradesh, it managed to retain Chhattisgarh despite Congress doing well in Bastar riding over a sympathy wave after the Maoist massacre of its leadership.
The margin with which BJP wrested power from Congress in Rajasthan has also come a surprise for Congress. In Delhi while BJP managed to somewhat weather the AAP storm, Congress was virtually wiped out. So “home is where we gather grace” seems to be mantra of the meeting as the party is keen to retain Congress-ruled states.
The role of Chief Ministers like Virbhadra Singh in Himachal Pradesh and Bhupinder Singh Hooda in Haryana could be important as such. The meeting being held at 15, Rakabganj Road, also known as Congress War Room, to work out poll strategies will discuss the future course for the party in the wake of the passage of Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill.
The issue of price rise and steps to arrest it will be taken up in detail at the conclave which will also discuss the food security issue. Party-ruled Haryana and Uttarakhand were among the first to launch the scheme, which UPA believes is a gamechanger for 2014 Lok Sabha polls.