Focus of meeting was to gear up for Lok Sabha elections

Factionalism in the State unit of the Congress came to the fore with some of the newly-appointed office bearers boycotting or staying away from the first meeting convened for them here on Thursday.

The meeting, primarily intended to be a forum for the office-bearers to introduce themselves, called by Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president B.S.Gnanadesikan, saw many loyalists of Union Finance Minister P.Chidambaram not attending it. Further, office-bearers belonging to the former TNCC president K.V.Thankgabalu camp walked out protesting that past Pradesh Congress Committee presidents or former Ministers were not invited to the meeting.

“I had called the meeting for the office-bearers and district presidents to discuss the party organisational matters and programmes for December and January,” Mr. Gnanadesikan told The Hindu. Pointing out that even the general secretary was not invited, and the purpose of the meeting was conveyed by him to the AICC, the TNCC president said the idea was to interact with the office-bearers and not make it a meeting where speeches are delivered.

“Leaders are only trained to address,” he said, adding some of the office-bearers had sent e-mails and letters on Wednesday itself expressing their inability to attend. A few supporters of Mr.Chidambaram did attend the meeting, he added.

Noting that a road map for each zone, made up of a few districts, was presented by him, he said the emphasis was on gearing up for the general elections next year. It would be a challenging task, given the short run-up to the polls. Nevertheless, “I will take everybody together,” he said, adding he regretted the behaviour of some of the new office-bearers on Thursday.

The new office-bearers, among other things, were asked to organise at least two public meetings at the block/panchayat level and hold a big meeting to be addressed by leaders every month. Visits to the villages by the district congress committee presidents were also emphasised.

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