New Delhi: With the civil society and Opposition leaders like Narendra Modi using the social media to target the party, strong pleas were made at Congress' dialogue meeting in Surajkund to increase the party's presence on the new media.
Party general secretary Digvijay Singh said Congress' presence on the social media tools like Facebook and Twitter are weak while those from the Opposition like Narendra Modi are using it to frequently mount attacks on Congress.
Singh, who was the first speaker in the discussion on political issues that began after the opening remarks of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, chose the occassion to suggest that Congress should have a separate cell for social media, sources said.
The day-long exercise also saw demands to tone up the party's media managament at a time when the media is virtually setting the agenda and being utilised by the detractors of the party to paint it black.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari told the meeting that ministers should not be diffident about appearing before the media to defend the party and the government's'policies.
Tewari also talked about the need to correct the perception in urban areas by aggressively countering the negative campaign.
Singh said there is no sustained campaign by Congress to counter the criticism of the party and the government in the social media though some individual members do it occassionally on their own.
Singh is active on Twitter and his posts on the microblogging site have led to angry reactions from the opposition.
Ajit Jogi suggested Congress needed to take a lesson from the re-election of Barrack Obama in the US and try to reach out to the backwards and the downtrodden instead of being focussed on forward classes.
The lack of coordination between the party and the government at several times were brought forth by some members. A leader rued government raised the prices of LPG cylinders on 3 October just four days before the voting in Himachal Pradesh assembly polls.
In her opening remarks, Gandhi had said, "The challenge before us is to tell the people about the reasons which forced us to take the decisions," in an obvious reference to the hike in prices of petroleum products as also LPG.
"Sometimes occasions may come when we feel the need for a balance between the responsibilities of the party and the government," she added.
Sources said it was tough managing time in the meeting in which more than 40 persons spoke. Digvijay Singh and P Chidambaram, who initiated the discussion on political and economic issues respectively, took close to 25 minutes each.
When Rahul Gandhi rose to speak, he told the Congress President that he was sorry that he cannot conclude his speech in five minutes.
Both Digvijay Singh and Minority Affairs Minister K Rahman Khan said terror of all hues, be it saffron or green, need to be fought seriously.