Sonia to decide Cong nominee for Prez poll
New Delhi: Congress President Sonia Gandhi will decide the party`s nominee for the post of the President, it was announced after a day-long meeting of the party`s top brass who deliberated on the issues facing the Congress-led UPA government and the party.
Meeting after nearly a year after it was set up, the twenty members of CWC unanimously passed a resolution authorizing Gandhi to name the party candidate for the Presidential election due by the middle of next month. The resolution was moved by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, widely regarded as a potential candidate for the post. Opinion was divided whether the fact that he moved the resolution was indicative of his prospects one way or the other.
The state of the party in the aftermath of its poll debacle in Uttar Pradesh came up for discussion with Gandhi mincing no words in telling Congressmen that they wasted energy on factionalism and "petty issues". Both the Congress President and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who took on Team Anna on the issue of corruption, dubbed the allegations against him and some central ministers as "canards and falsehood".
Gandhi saw the attacks by the civil society on the PM and Congress as part of a "conspiracy" and told both the party and the government to "fiercely fight" such allegations. Mukherjee, who also spoke at the day-long deliberations, said the "situation may be difficult but we would be able to retrieve. We will retrieve the situation. We have done it in the past".
The meeting earlier saw a larger number of party leaders, mainly the PCC chiefs and CLP leaders, flagging concerns over rising prices and corruption. The Finance Minister also chose the occassion to dispel the impression that the economic situation in the country is back to the one that had prevailed during the 1991, which had forced the government to mortgage the gold reserve to meet the balance of payment problem.
A highlight of the deliberations was the attack on UPA allies Sharad Pawar`s NCP and Mamata Banerjee`s Trinamool Congress as also the need for a strategy to fight regional parties. Party spokesperson Manish Tewari attacked CAG alleging the way the audit body was conducting itself was "detrimental" to the interest of the government and wondered whether it would be allowing CAG to "behave like a loose canon".
Tewari as also Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna suggested the government should give the impression that it was functioning. Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said it is time for a shake-up in the party on the lines of Kamraj Plan and the old leadership should step down to pave way for the takeover by young ones. Kamraj Plan was effected by Jawaharlal Nehru under which senior ministers had resigned from the government to make themselves available to work for the organiszation.
Recalling the adage that charity should begin at home, Hooda told Gandhi that he was ready to take up any work assigned by her. Kerala state chief of the party Ramesh Chennithala was critical of the petrol price hike. "The common man does not understand statistics", he said adding there is a need for urgent steps to bring down the prices. Chennithala also said the government should bring back the Administered Price Mechanism to help the common man.