Sonia exhorts partymen to brace up for polls

Soul searching: Congress leaders in serious discussion to woo voters

Signalling to the Congress members that efforts towards preparing the party for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections has been set in motion, Sonia Gandhi on Friday announced that a co-ordination group and three sub-groups have been created to perform election-related work.

Addressing the party’s “samvad baithak” (dialogue session) held at Surajkund, Gandhi reminded the party leaders that with one-and-a-half-years to go for the polls, “both party and government have to work cohesively to secure a renewed mandate.”
“To facilitate this, a coordination group and three sub-groups with specific tasks have already been created,” she said.

While Gandhi said the groups will be announced shortly, party sources told Deccan Herald that the details will be made public after Deepavali. They added that the groups will be assigned election-related work, including finalising selection of candidates.

Briefing journalists, party chief spokesman Janardhan Dwivedi said the group was not purported to ensure co-ordination between government and party. Instead, it will address issues concerning the party itself. “We have a core committee to deal with matters between party and government.”

The dialogue session, which continued for six-and-a-half hours, was attended by 66 AICC general secretaries, working committee members, Union ministers and ministers of state holding independent charge. The members were give a free hand to express their opinions as a result of which some of government’s decisions, such as restricting the LPG cylinders to six a year, drew flak.

Taking a cue from these remarks, Gandhi called for better understanding between the government and the party and pointed out that the ministers should attend party offices regularly. There was a need to take the government’s achievements like the flagship welfare programmes to the people. Both government and party should be actively involved in the process. “We must get ready to face the challenge," Gandhi said. “Clearly, we have to do much more to derive maximum advantage from the benefits of our flagship programmes. The ministers should be more involved in implementing the 2009 party manifesto. The government and ministers have to be more sensitive to the concerns of the party units, especially in states ruled by opposition parties.”

Observing that the “Chintan shibir (brainstorming session)” was long overdue and will be held shortly, Gandhi said some concrete plans which have emerged out of Friday’s discussion, will be discussed in the session.

The Congress president underlined that the UPA government made “a record of excellent achievements” in the past eight years and changed the face of the country through "unparalleled” welfare programmes and laws.

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