The first interaction between Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and State leaders — PCC chiefs, CLP leaders and Chief Ministers — centred round elections: how to gear up the party for the 2014 general elections and the string of Assembly elections all through this year?
Problems in the Congress units in the States going to the polls surfaced at the daylong meeting — which will be completed on Saturday — with Delhi State chief J.P. Aggarwal and Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit clearly not on the same page. If Mr. Aggarwal criticised the functioning of the State government saying it was creating problems for the organisation, Ms. Dikshit later retorted that the two wings — government and party — should concentrate on their own tasks.
Madhya Pradesh PCC chief Kantilal Bhuria and CLP leader Ajay Singh made less than flattering remarks about central leaders, particularly Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath and MoS Jyotiraditya Scindia.
Both Delhi and Madhya Pradesh will face elections later this year along with Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.
Predictably, representatives from Andhra Pradesh made a plea for resolving the Telangana issue soon. Later, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan pointed out that if Telangana was created, an impact would be felt in Vidarbha, where a similar demand has been pending.
The leaders from Punjab reserved their ire for the Badal government.
Party sources said the ongoing two-day meeting would be followed by one-to-one meetings between Mr. Gandhi and representatives of each state.
Mr. Gandhi will travel to Odisha (February 18 and 19) to meet district presidents, block presidents and panchayat members of the State in Sambalpur and Cuttack. Odisha will be his first port of call as he embarks on his interaction exercise in the States.