Rahul Gandhi addresses a Congress rally in Udaipur on Wednesday. (PTI)
New Delhi, Sept. 11: Rahul Gandhi is meeting Congress ministers in the Manmohan Singh government to gather arsenal for the 2014 campaign.
The young MP, who Singh described as the “ideal choice” for next Prime Minister, is in his meetings examining the progress on promises made by the party in 2009 and asking for a list of achievements of each department.
A questionnaire has been sent to each ministry held by the Congress. While the focus is on the status of implementation of the 2009 manifesto, the ministries have also been asked to list their top three achievements and two-three proposals, programmes, policies or legislation that could have a political impact.
A cabinet minister confirmed to The Telegraph that Rahul had already met a few ministers. This exercise is different from the assessment and monitoring of each ministry by the Prime Minister. Rahul is primarily interested in a sound feedback that will help the Congress talk about the government’s achievements with clarity and statistical details, sources said.
Sonia Gandhi often speaks of the “remarkable work” in the social sector by the Manmohan Singh government and it is a given that the party’s campaign will be woven around the several rights-based laws it has brought, the latest being the Food Security Bill. Rahul’s one-on-one meetings with the ministers are an effort to collect data to power that campaign.
Even in his public meetings, Rahul focuses on the specifics of welfare programmes and goes straight to what the government has done.
The current information-gathering exercise is being taken seriously, the sources said. In several ministries, top officials have been asked to collate data “for the minister’s meeting with Rahul Gandhi.”
The emphasis on facts and figures is visible in the Congress’s communication department, too, which is banking on statistics to fight Narendra Modi’s rhetoric. While the party’s Gujarat leadership has worked to gather information on the performance of the Modi government in different sectors, the AICC research wing is separately collecting data from the Union government to weave its success story and to counter what it calls the “false propaganda of the BJP”.
Since taking over as party vice-president, Rahul has introduced a periodic monitoring mechanism in the organisation, meeting PCC presidents and legislature party leaders every two months to assess the work done by state units. He insists on a written submission in a fixed format by every PCC chief, which had caused initial unease among state leaders but which most are now used to.
Sonia, too, had laid great emphasis on manifesto implementation and introduced a system of micro-managing it in states through annual chief ministers’ conferences but that was discontinued. A daylong conclave in Surajkund last year had tracked implementation of promises made in the 2009 manifesto by every ministry in the Union government. At that time, the party leadership was not satisfied with the performance of several ministries.