He will ask PCC, CLP leaders to mount pressure on CMs for speedy implementation

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi will meet Pradesh Congress Committee chiefs on July 27 to ask them to ensure that the credit for introducing the world’s largest food security programme goes to the party.

This comes in the wake of Congress president Sonia Gandhi on July 13 urging her party’s Chief Ministers to roll out the programme swiftly, even as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh promised to remove all hurdles to effective implementation after several party functionaries and Chief Ministers pointed out the shortcomings in the Public Distribution System and the transportation system.

With Assembly elections due in five States at year-end and the general elections less than 10 months away, Mr. Gandhi is in pro-active mode with his current focus is on food security — and controlling the narrative.

Ahead of the July 27 meeting, Mr. Gandhi will inaugurate a three-day workshop at the party headquarters here, starting July 21, for a fresh batch of 150-odd party spokespersons from the States.

“The aim,” party sources told The Hindu, “is to work towards a better relationship, better coordination between the party’s central unit and the States, and ensure synergy between what is being said in Delhi and in the State capitals.”

Apart from videoconferencing and deploying the latest technological tools to ensure unity of voices, on days the Congress has a briefing in Delhi at 4.15 p.m., the text of the spokesperson’s press conference would be in the hands of all State spokespersons by 6 p.m.

The new spokespersons — recently appointed by the PCCs, and largely under 55, will be urged to set up communications units on the lines of the one in Delhi, with a person heading a research cell and another controlling the social media cell. At the central level, while the party’s deputy chief whip in the Lok Sabha Sandeep Dikshit — who is also a central spokesperson — is in charge of research, Deepender Hooda, MP, heads the social media wing.

On July 27, when Mr. Gandhi addresses PCC chiefs of all States, whether ruled by the Congress or not, as well as the Congress Legislature Party leaders of non-Congress-ruled States, he will impress upon them the need to keep up the pressure on the Chief Ministers to implement the food security programme expeditiously, explain its significance to the people at large, and stress that the bulk of the subsidy comes from the Centre.

For instance, if the current central subsidy for rice is Rs 18 per kg, rice that costs Rs. 23 a kg is being given to the States at Rs 5. So a State that supplies it at Re 1 a kg, for instance, is providing only a subsidy of Rs. 4 per kg. Now, of course, the central subsidy will increase further.

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