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Fireworks at Rahul's first meeting with AICC leaders

NEW DELHI, Jan 31, 2013, DHNS: 1:40 IST

Blame game and complaints of oneupmanship witnessed

Congress president Sonia Gandhi has constituted a group comprising senior party leaders to examine the issue of electoral reforms and suggest suitable measures to this effect.

The six-member group, to be headed by former Information and Broadcasting minister Ambika Sonia, comprises M S Gill, Mani Shankar Aiyar, E M S Natchiappan, Mohan Prakash and M Veerappa Moily, Congress general secretary and in-charge of the party’s media cell, Janardan Dwivedi, told reporters on Thursday.

Gandhi had underlined the need to bring electoral reforms at the brainstorming session in Jaipur recently. Asserting that issues like political funding should be revisited, Gandhi had said she would set up a group to examine the issue and suggest an action plan.

“We have to admit that the people are getting disillusioned with the political process. We have to understand what are the causes behind this disillusionment,” Gandhi had said.

The group will look into all aspects of electoral reforms and submit its report as early as possible. “The report will be discussed by the party and then sent to the Election Commission of India,” a senior party leader told Deccan Herald.

Meanwhile, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi discussed the party’s strategy with the leaders at the All India Congress Committee (AICC) headquarters here. He met the 52-odd office bearers of the party, including general secretaries who are in charge of political affairs of different states.

According to sources, Union Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, who is also the AICC general secretary in charge of Andhra Pradesh, suggested that a party leader should not be allowed to hold more than one position, either in the party or in the government. Some of the leaders suggested that the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) and District Congress Committee (DCC) chiefs should be barred from contesting elections.

Many AICC general secretaries suggested that there was a need to bring more discipline among the partyworkers and leaders. Some of the leaders complained that a few members often cross the party’s official line while speaking on public forums, sources said.

“Rahul Gandhi said he wanted all leaders to speak out openly. He said if we want to strengthen the party, it is necessary that we put forth views frankly and truthfully,” Dwivedi told reporters after the meeting. Gandhi urged the leaders to suggest ways to make the party stronger in view of the 2014 general elections and the upcoming Assembly elections in many states. Since only 19 of 52 leaders and office bearers could speak during the “free and frank“ meeting which lasted for a little over two hours, Gandhi called all of them again on Friday.

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