Special Correspondent

JAIPUR: Congress general secretary Ashok Gehlot said on Friday that the party would concentrate on regaining its popularity in North India, especially in the most populous States of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The just concluded plenary session of the All-India Congress Committee was candid enough to admit that the party was weak in the North, he said.

Mr. Gehlot, who was here in the Rajasthan capital on his return from the party's Hyderabad plenary session, said that it provided a clear political direction to the party workers. The convention also approved the economic policies being pursued by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as was evident by the economic and political resolutions passed during the occasion, he said.

The plenary session also found the emergence of Rahul Gandhi as the most sought after youth leader in the party. There was a demand from the delegates to bring forward the young leadership in the party so that the youth of the country got attracted to the programmes and the policies of the Congress.

The general opinion was that the young leaders were less affected by caste and communal feelings, he said.

Mr.Gehlot, who is the AICC in charge for Uttar Pradesh, said as the party leadership had acknowledged the need for certain initiatives in northern States, planning would be done accordingly.

Citing the party performance in U.P. in the Allahabad by-election recently, Mr.Gehlot admitted that the number of votes received by the party nominee there was a "disgrace". Uttar Pradesh and Bihar needed a special treatment. Emphasis on north States however, was in no way going to affect party's work in other areas. "The message from the plenary is to strengthen the Congress for a more prosperous, just and vibrant India," he said.