OST Political Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jan 18:
The hopes of Congress dissidents for a change of guard ahead of the 2014 elections were rudely dashed when party vice president Rahul Gandhi made it abundantly clear that the high command is in no mood to replace PCC president Jayadev Jena, party sources said.
“The issue of change of PCC leadership was not even discussed during our meeting with Rahulji. He advised us take everybody, including the dissidents, along and fight the elections unitedly,” senior Congress leader Suresh Routray said after the meeting.
PCC president Jayadev Jena echoed Routray saying the consensus was that the party can return to power if it can present a united front.
This was the first meeting state Congress leaders had with the Gandhi scion after he was formally assigned to lead the party campaign in the Lok Sabha polls at the AICC session in the national capital on Friday.
However, party sources said the leaders did not get enough time to interact with the party vice-president on the poll strategy and organizational revamp since the state leaders, led by PCC chief Jaydev Jena, were clubbed with leaders of three other states during the short interaction. These states are Jharkhand, Daman and Diu and Goa.
“The party leaders raised various issues, including the dismal situation of the Congress in the state and its poor performance in the recently concluded urban polls,” said sources adding that some leaders sought an appointment with the Gandhi scion. They are likely to meet him in the next two days.
Gandhi also held consultations with other state leaders on the strategy ahead of Lok Sabha polls.
The party is all set to begin the process of ticket distribution by holding meetings of the newly set up screening committees as part of its plan for early declaration of candidates.
A number of meetings of the party’s committee on alliance, manifesto and campaign strategy have already been held and decisions on all these are expected soon, said a Congress leader.
Gandhi’s consultations with the chiefs of Pradesh Congress Committees and District Congress Committees are also intended at incorporating the views and suggestions from the states on issues on which Congress will go to Lok Sabha polls in the respective states.