UP poll debacle: Cong panel recommends deeper connect

UP poll debacle: Cong panel recommends deeper connect

No nepotism in distributing tickets, declaring candidates almost a year before polls, easy accessibility of the CM, PCC chief and CLP leaders to party workers and strict enforcement of discipline are some of the recommendations of the Congress committee that went into party's debacle in Uttar Pradesh.

The report of the three-member committee, headed by Defence Minister AK Antony, was submitted to Congress President Sonia Gandhi a few days back, which carried five pages of recommendations to revive Congress and pin-pointed the reasons for party's poor poll performance in the Assembly elections in five states including Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Goa, where the party lost.

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Union Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde were other members of the committee that reviewed the Congress' poor showing in these states and also recommended the corrective measures.

Amid growing complaints from various state units of the party that Chief Ministers in the Congress-ruled states and CLP leaders where the party is in opposition are not connecting with the workers, the committee has impressed upon the need for them to be in constant touch with party workers.

It said tickets should not be given to somebody because he is the kin of some leader in the party, which, it felt, was the reason for the party's defeat in many constituencies. The report has also pointed out that some sort of disconnect between senior leaders and workers in UP was also a factor for the party's poor showing.

The report has called for strict compliance of discipline norms in the wake of internal dissension in UP spoiling the party's chances in many states as some senior leaders did not see eye to eye with each other.

The Congress' campaign in UP had courted many a controversy including the one related to Law Minister Salman Khurshid's remarks on OBC Muslim quota that had led to a war of words between him and the Election Commission. AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh's comments on Batla House encounter had also kicked up a controversy.

Perception of corruption, price rise, wrong ticket distribution, controversial campaigning and poor organizational structure on the ground were stated as other reasons for the party's debacle in the committee's report, the sources said.

Despite a high-decibel campaign by Rahul Gandhi, Congress could secure only 28 seats in the assembly election, which was just six more than what it got in 2007 Assembly elections. This time the party had also tied up with Ajit Singh's RLD, which was expected to boost the party's performance considerably in Western Uttar Pradesh.

Apart from Uttar Pradesh, the results in Punjab were also a dampener for the Congress, which was confident of coming back to power riding on an anti-incumbency wave and perceived marginalisation of BJP in urban areas. Both assessments proved to be wrong.

Party President Sonia Gandhi had earlier said that weak organization at the state level, "too many leaders", and wrong ticket distribution could have been factors for the party's poor show in UP. Rahul Gandhi had also owned up responsibilty for the defeat.
However, the committe report has refrained from banning individuals and sought corrective action to plug the loopholes, the sources said.

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