Mumbai: Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi today expressed worries over his party losing base in Maharashtra to its ally NCP and said he would tour the state more often to boost the grassroot cadre and assist party preparations for the 2014 assembly elections.
Interacting with NSUI delegates from Maharashtra, Rahul, who is on a day’s visit to the country’s financial capital, said this was his first political visit.
“I plan to undertake constituency-wise tours to take a first hand view of the party’s strengths and weaknesses. I will come more often here,” the Congress leader is said to have told the NSUI delegates in a closed door meeting at Bhaidas Hall in suburban Vile Parle.
Tushar Pote, a second year BBA student of SSGM College from Shirdi said that Rahul was worried that the Congress’ base was pipped by NCP at the grassroot level.
“Why are we number two party in the recent local bodies elections. I got to know different versions of the reasons. Hence I have decided to personally look into it,” Pote quoted the Congress scion as saying.
According to Pote, Rahul said Maharashtra had contributed a lot to the Congress as well as national politics.
During the interaction, Rahul was told that since Ajit Pawar had taken charge of the NCP in the state, the party was steadily increasing its base at the grassroot where as the congress was identified with scams.
“Rahul said the congress had undertaken a clean-up system referring to the organisational elections in NSUI and youth congress. He said when you add clean water to muddied water in a bucket, it overall gets cleaner,” Pote said.
The Congress leader said he would extensively campaign and tour the state for the 2014 elections.
To a question posed to him on whether Priyanka Gandhi Vadra would join him in the campaign since people in Maharashtra view her as so similar to their grandmother Indira Gandhi, Rahul responded saying his sister had campaigned with him in Uttar Pradesh and would join him in Maharashtra as well.
Pote said Rahul was also asked why he was restricting himself only to Uttar Pradesh. To which, Rahul told delegates about his plans to tour Maharashtra often.
The NSUI delegates told Rahul of their activists not been given their due in party’s state unit hierarchy with established leaders hindering their prospects.
Pote quoted Rahul as saying, “NSUI was the entry point to politics and the parent congress party. Strengthen this organisation ..do good work, which in return will give you a better platform in politics.”
Pote said Rahul was also told that congress ministers were not contributing to strengthening the party at the grassroot. “If this continues, Ajit Pawar will become the CM with Sena’s help in 2014,” Pote quoted the delegates as saying. To which, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan who was present at the meeting said, “that will not happen..”
In a separate meeting with Youth Congress elected representatives, Rahul called for the need to have zero tolerance to corruption and said that even those from the congress should not be spared.
He sought to know how many delegates from the audience came from political families. When about 10-15 hands were raised, Rahul said all the delegates were sitting in this room because they were elected and not because they were related to somebody, said Sadaf Aboli, Mumbai unit NSUI president who participated in the Youth Congress interaction.
Rahul also felicitated youth Congress activists who had won the recent local bodies election. He asked the youth Congress activists to identify their area of work and compile it on the youth Congress website. “The work will be evaluated and marks would be given. Good and meritorious workers will get enough chance to prove their mettle in politics, he added.