Itís no more top down but bottom up for Congress
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Selection of block presidents in Rae Bareli by Priyanka Gandhi is just one of the many measures the Congress is taking in the hope of setting its house in order in Uttar Pradesh for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
At the top of that list is the belated realisation that
a) cadre cannot be ignored in the name of caste equations;
b) presence of senior leaders at regional level is a must; and
c) that grassroot workers should have increased participation rather than just being called to "gather the crowds".
Dividing UP into eight zones was the first step in that direction. For zonal presidents, the Congress has chosen leaders who have stood for elections and been either MLAs or MPs. The zonal presidents have been told to camp in their regions rather than in Lucknow, lending cadre an ear on the ground they can take their problems to.
Among those selected for zonal vice-president posts are young MLAs such as Mukesh Srivastava, Lalitesh Pati Tripathi, Nadeem Jawed and Pankaj Malik, who had been feeling ignored despite their hard work.
The message is clear ó that "performance" rather than making rounds of the Congress Delhi headquarters would now count more.
The two "VVIP" constituencies of Rae Bareli and Amethi are also undergoing reforms. In Rae Bareli, Congress president Sonia Gandhi's constituency ó where the party lost all the five Assembly seat in this year's polls ó Priyanka is clearly in charge. Local leaders say questions about her absence from the seat after the 2009 Lok Sabha elections had pinched her. She wants to make sure that impression has been wiped out by the time of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. She meets locals and workers every Wednesday in Delhi and is also taking active part in selection of the local team. At Rahul Gandhi's seat Amethi, block-wise open meetings of the cadre have been started to decide where the local area fund of MPs should be spent. The final list of works is prepared in consultation with all the office bearers of that block rather than being decided by select leaders. The block committees monitor the development works.
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