Organisational polls should reinvigorate, rejuvenate Congress: Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi: Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi Tuesday said the organisational elections should be utilised to "reinvigorate and rejuvenate" the party following the debacle in the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls.

In his first formal interaction with top party leaders here after the defeat of Congress in Assembly polls in Maharashtra and Haryana, Gandhi wanted the organisational elections to be "free, fair and transparent" to make the party fighting fit.

He said full powers have been given to the party's Central Election Authority, headed by Mullapalli Ramchandran, so as to make the exercise truly effective and foolproof.

Rahul's remarks came as Congress continued to face a trail of defeat and there is a buzz about the possibility of sweeping changes in the party organisation in the near future.

Organisational weakness has been cited one of the major reasons for the debacle of Congress starting from 2010 Assembly elections in Bihar, also in Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh in 2012.

It was one of the factors in the defeat of Congress in this year's Lok Sabha polls, apart from price rise and perception of corruption, which were attributed as the main factors of party's poor show.

General secretaries in-charge of states and a number of PCC chiefs besides members of the election authority participated in today's meeting.

The process for organisational elections in the party has already begun, which would culminate with the election of a new party President next year.

Rahul has been pressing for larger say to grass root workers in the election of party office bearers for long.

Ramchandran, a former Union minister and Chairman of the party's Central Election Authority, had claimed that Congress will have a "100 per cent transparent" organisational elections this time.

The talk about bringing in "fresh leadership" at all levels has already been doing rounds in the party.

Last week, Congress President Sonia Gandhi had done a stock-taking exercise following the party's debacle in Assembly polls in Haryana and Maharashtra even as a clamour for "course correction" grows within its ranks in the wake of the dip in electoral fortunes.

This will be the first organisational elections after Congress amended its constitution to have the party polls after five years instead of three years earlier.

Organisational elections in the past have often been dogged by charges of bogus membership by rival factions to have control over the party.

The membership drive of the party was currently underway and would conclude on December 31. The new year will see beginning of the process of organisational polls.

The election of Congress President is scheduled between July 5 and July 25, by which time the organisational polls at the lower level would be over.

Sonia Gandhi has been at the helm of the party since March 1998 and holds the distinction of having the longest tenure as the head of the party which was founded way back in 1885.

Rahul Gandhi was made the Congress Vice President in January 2013 at the party's Jaipur Chintan Shivir.

There is a likelihood that a number of Congressmen, who had earlier left the party for one or more reason may be re-inducted as the party faces the challenge of Narendra Modi's juggernaut even in state polls.

"All loyal Congressmen are welcome," Ramachandran had said when asked whether those who have left the party or parted ways with it due to various reasons would be brought back.


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