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2014 polls: Congress manifesto committee holds its

Senior Congress leaders on Friday night brainstormed over issues and programmes to be included in the manifesto for 2014 general elections.

New Delhi: Senior Congress leaders on Friday night brainstormed over issues and programmes to be included in the manifesto for next general elections with Union Minister AK Antony chairing the first meeting of the party`s sub-group on manifesto and government programmes for 2014 polls.

"Being the first meeting, it was merely an exchange of views on issues," said a leader on the condition of anonymity.

Antony emphaised the need for wider consultations to decide the issues and programmes to be included in the manifesto.

During the 30-minute meeting, leaders also spoke about the preparedness of Congess on social media vis-a-vis that of the principal opposition party BJP.

The robust presence of BJP, and particularly Narendra Modi team, has been a challenge to Congress which has in recent months pulled up its socks to meet the challenge.

Some of the leaders were of the view that more than eight months had passed since the sub-group was created and there is now a need to get going with the task assigned to it and inputs should also be taken from states.

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi had been telling partymen for quite some time that there is a need to involve people from grassroot in policymaking and input should also be taken from block Congress committees when the party finalises the programme.

This was one of the highlights of his speech during Congress `chintan shivir` held in Jaipur in January this year when he was anointed the party vice president.

The 12-member sub group headed by Antony is an offshoot of the high-power Congress Coordination Group Chaired by Rahul Gandhi for the next general elections, which was set up in November last year two months before Gandhi was appointed as party Vice President.

Antony, P Chidambaram, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Anand Sharma, Salman Khurshid, Sandeep Dikshit, Ajit Jogi, Renuka Chowdhary, PL Punia, Mohan Gopal, Jairam Ramesh and Digvijay Singh are members of the manifesto committee.

Two of the sub-committee members Ramesh and Puniya were not present in tonight`s meeting.

Ramesh and Digvijay were included in the panel on July 23
while party ideologue Mohan Gopal, who was earlier a special invitee to it, was elevated as a member.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi had announced the setting up of the coordination group and sub-groups with specific tasks on November 9 last year.

The eight-member Co-ordinatin Group headed by Rahul has Ahmed Patel, Janardan Dwivedi, Digvijay Singh, Madhusudan Mistry, Jairam Ramesh, CP Joshi and Ajay Maken as member. Joshi and Maken were also included in the panel on July 23.

The party had in November also set up two more groups-- one on alliance headed by Antony and on publicity headed by Digvijay Singh.
The party recently organized a massive media workshop a pre-cursor to putting in place dedicated media and social media departments in states.

While the other two sub-groups held a number of meetings so far, this was the first meeting of the sub group on manifesto and progammes.

Congress has already constituted manifesto implementation committees for a number of states.

Antony has been made chairman of manifesto implementation
committee for Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

Some Union Ministers like V Narayanasamy and Krishna Tirath have also been given a place in these panels.