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Mission UP: Rahul all set to overhaul Congress set-up

Atiq Khan
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Party organisation likely to be divided into eight zones

Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi
Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi

Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi is to revive “Mission Uttar Pradesh”, six months after the party's debacle in the State Assembly elections, albeit with a change. In the new scheme of things, the U.P. Congress organisation is likely to be divided into eight zones, with each zone under the charge of a leader with an untarnished image. The zonal heads will report to the new Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee president Nirmal Khatri, who is taking charge on Tuesday and will be accountable to the high-profile Member of Parliament from Amethi.

With UP sending the maximum number of 80 MPs to the Lok Sabha, the proposed change this time round is with an eye on the 2014 general elections.

Reliable sources in the Congress say that Union Ministers Jitin Prasada, R.P.N. Singh and Pradeep Jain, Chairman of National Commission for Scheduled Castes & Barabanki MP P.L .Punia, Allahabad MLA Anugrah Narain Singh, Banda MLA Vivek Singh, Rasheed Masood and former Aligarh MP Chaudhary Brijendra Singh will function as zonal heads. Sources say the zonal heads were summoned to Delhi by the Congress general secretary last week and told about their new responsibilities. Another meeting will be in Lucknow on Wednesday when the Congress general secretary in charge of U.P. Digvijay Singh, Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and UPCC president Nirmal Khatri will discuss the future course of action with the zonal heads, party sources said. A formal announcement on the creation of eight zones is expected to be made on Thursday.

The need to split the organisation into eight zones arose following complaints of groupism, lack of accountability and failure to revive the party's fortunes against several district and city Congress chiefs during the Assembly elections. “Some of the district party chiefs were wary to carry the Congress flag on their vehicles with the son and nephews of one district chief being given jobs by a senior Minister of the Mayawati Government,” said a senior leader, given the new responsibility, on condition of anonymity.

Another complaint was related to formation of block level committees with about 90 per cent panels existing only on paper. It was also felt that the UPCC president has been unable to keep a close tab on organisational activities away from Lucknow and had to depend on feedback from their trusted partymen. Following the new move to strengthen the party's organisational set-up, the zonal in-charges have been given the power to form the committees and recommend replacement of the district and city unit chiefs after a monthly, followed by a quarterly, review of their performance, Congress sources said.

The eight zones will function from the zonal headquarters with the names of the cities to be decided later.

Significantly, Union Ministers Beni Prasad Verma and Salman Khurshid have been kept out of Mr. Gandhi's latest action plan to revive the Congress in the State. Union Coal Minister Sri Prakash Jaiswal too has been kept out. Former Congress Legislature Party leader and the senior most MLA in the State Assembly Pramod Tiwari has also not found a place.

Meanwhile, the new U.P. Congress president's taking over charge on Tuesday is likely to be kept a low-key affair.


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