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Rahul Gandhi-as-PM candidate demand at Congress Chintan Shivir

A demand for declaring Rahul Gandhi as the Prime Ministerial candidate of the party before 2014 polls was made at the Congress brainstorming conclave that began here on Friday.

Jaipur: A demand for declaring Rahul Gandhi as the Prime Ministerial candidate of the party before 2014 polls was made at the Congress brainstorming conclave that began here on Friday.

Conflicting views on alliances, including the demand for going it alone in some states, and a review of the decision of diesel price decontrol were among a host of issues raised at the Chintan Shivir, the two-day conclave that will be followed by a day-long session of AICC on Sunday.

MPs Raj Babbar, Avtar Singh Badana and some other members made the demand for Rahul as PM at the strategy meet attended by significantly over 150 members of the Youth Congress and NSUI delegates who were invited at the instance of Rahul Gandhi.

A strong demand for stern resolution against Pakistan and an early decision on Telangana were also made during the discussions which also saw Rahul advocating on-line membership facilities at block level and ruing that party workers at district and block levels are not getting adequate attention.

The discussion on the issue of women empowerment also saw a strong demand for passage of the long-pending women reservation bill which seeks to provide 33 percent reservation in Parliament and assemblies.

Andhra Pradesh Jaganmohan Reddy, which is working to his advantage. While all women members, including Union Minister Jayanthi Natarajan, favoured its early passage, AICC secretary Praveen Davar, while making a strong pitch for it, said the clearance of the bill should not be the responsibility of only women members and that it was time male members in the party also treat it on a priority basis.

Speaking in the sub-group on Emerging Political
Challenges, a large number of speakers advocated caution on the issue of alliance saying the regional parties turn out to be ultimate beneficiaries damaging Congress in the long run.

Some favoured the party to go alone in next general elections saying there is no need to rush into alliances as regional parties are finishing Congress.

However, the base paper for the discussion appeared inclined towards finding new friends and allies.

During the discussions, representatives from Bihar, Orissa, UP and Maharashtra spoke against alliance.

Union Minister Deepa Dasmunshi said there was a need to be clear whether Congress wants to contest next Lok Sabha elections alone or in alliance.

She said there is need to shed ambiguity on it.

Dasmunshi also said Congress needs to be more assertive whether it is about dealing with the Opposition or allies and the party should not bend before them.
Some of the members said Congress was not attacking YSR Congress leader in

During the discussions, some members accused social media and television channels of having an anti-Congress bias aruging that while they highlighted the Delhi gang-rape case, rape cases in BJP-ruled Chhattishgarh went under-reported.

As the Delhi gang-rape incident dominated the discussion in the sub group on women empowerment, participants sought stricter punishment in rape cases.

Union Minister KC Venugopal said there is a need for stringent laws to tackle crimes like rape and other atrocities against women.

There was also a demand for steps to sensitise and train the police to handle such cases better.

Some delegates sought more number of women police stations.
There was also a demand for gender audit.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi talked about fast track courts and speedy trials besides asking respecting women from home itself.

Participating in the meeting of the sub-group on organisational matters, Rahul Gandhi said there is a need for more a scientific recruitment process for party workers at block and panchayat levels.

He said workers at district and block levels are not getting adequate recognition and that it is difficult to recognize loyal party workers.

He also advocated a system for online membership at block

Hanumantha Rao said there has been so much delay on Telangana issue and rued that Congress is not taking the issue of small states seriously.

CLP leader of Uttar Pradesh Pradip Mathur said the issue of reservation in promotion has angered upper castes which are feeling cheated "cheated" and Congress may have to face the backlash if something was not done for them.

Party spokesperson PC Chacko made a strong pitch for improving the human development index of the country, which is lagging behind at a time when the GDP is growing.

After the discussions, AICC general secretary Janardan Dwivedi told reporters that the programme was "successful and the experiemnt of calling more youhts for the Shivir had worked well".

“It seems they have much more to say. They shared new ideas,” he said.