Rahul Gandhi leads Congress meet to discuss strengthening of party

A Congress meeting on Friday for deliberating on plans for strengthening the party's organisation saw the participating leaders raise a number of concerns.

New Delhi: A Congress meeting on Friday for deliberating on plans for strengthening the party's organisation saw the participating leaders raise a number of concerns.

Party general secretary CP Joshi, a close aide of Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, said that organisational elections for the party should be held at the booth level instead of the block level.

However, other leaders like Mukuk Wasnik, PC Chacko and Ajay Maken felt the meeting was not the fora for discussing such issues and said these should be taken up in the party plenary, which is likely to be held in March-April.

When Gandhi saw the discussion going off track, he intervened to say that the leaders should discuss the agenda of the meeting of the Election Authority, which is to discuss membership and other organisational matters. He said that all other issues should left for the AICC session.

Sources in the party said that since it was a free discussion, strong views and counter views were expressed during the two-hour long meeting. The meeting also saw a free exchange of views on many issues with Gandhi frequently intervening during the discussions.

Maken cited the example of AAP saying they first make members and then choose volunteers from them on the basis of their performance and ability. His view comes amidst a discussion in the party on whether it should return to its old practice of two types of membership under which one first becomes a primary member and, then, after enrolling 25 members, he becomes an active member.

AICC Secretary Shakeel Ahmed Khan, however, had a different take. He said that if Congress does activism, all members will automatically become active members.

Party general secretary Gurudas Kamath citied difficulties in carrying out the membership drive with photos, especially in rural areas.

Representatives from the Congress affiliates like Mahila Congress, Youth Congress and NSUI were of the view that once a person became a member of any of these wings, he should automatically become a Congress member. They said that the time has now come to do away with its kind of dual membership.

The meeting began with a brief address by the Chairman of the Congress's Central Election Authority, Mullapalli Rmachandran. In summing up the meeting, Gandhi asked party leaders to ensure that a "genuine" membership drive was carried out.  

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