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Rahul emissary holds talks

Ranchi, March 1: Congress general secretary Madhusudan Mistry, sent from Delhi to assess the party’s prospects in Jharkhand ahead of the 2014 parliamentary elections, held one-on-one meetings with district presidents today to identify the organisation’s strengths and weaknesses.

Sources said that Mistry’s visit was part of an ongoing countrywide assessment drive being conducted by Rahul Gandhi before the elections. Earlier, two of his trusted aides, Mukesh Srivastava and Jodha Ram Gujjar, were in Jharkhand in November last year.

Srivastava, who is an MLA in Uttar Pradesh from Faridpur Assembly constituency, was given charge of seven parliamentary constituencies, namely, Ranchi, Hazaribagh, Dhanbad, Singhbhum, Palamau, Lohardaga and Khunti. Gujjar was in charge of the rest.

After visiting all 14 Lok Sabha constituencies of the state, Srivastava and Gujjar had submitted their reports to Rahul, detailing the constraints that had stymied the party’s prospects in Jharkhand.

“His (Mistry) visit was in connection with the ground assessments carried out by Srivastava and Gujjar in the last four months. Mistry discussed electoral plans with various leaders individually,” said a senior Congress leader.

Mistry, who is considered to be a part of Rahul Gandhi’s core team, refused to outline the purpose of his visit. In fact, he was extremely unhappy to learn that the media had got wind of his plans.

While interacting with district Congress presidents, Mistry asked them to suggest faces — “fresh or familiar” — with a mass base and those who had a fair chance of electoral success.

He discussed threadbare the various factors responsible for the poor show of the Congress in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.

A large number of district functionaries requested him to undertake an urgent “clean-up job” within the state party that had been badly hit by factionalism and organisational immobility.

“We were given a chance to speak our minds. Factionalism is the biggest challenge and we need to deal with it with an iron hand. Congress requires strong groundwork. Otherwise Jharkhand is going to prove very difficult,” a district president told The Telegraph, ruing the delay in appointing a new state party president.

On his part, Mistry assured them that he would convey their feelings to the party high command and suggest launching an immediate mass campaign.


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