Mount Abu, Nov. 7: The performance of some Congress chief ministers is set to come under severe criticism at tomorrow’s meeting of party leaders here.
On the firing line are Vilasrao Deshmukh for communal disturbance in Maharashtra, host Ashok Gehlot for starvation deaths in Rajasthan and Tarun Gogoi for the poor law and order situation in Assam.
Gehlot has put the blame on the Centre in his lengthy defence. “We have been facing severe drought for the last five years but there has been no central aid,” asserted the Rajasthan chief minister.
“I spent Diwali in areas where alleged cases of starvation have been reported. But, in the strict sense, nobody died of eating grass. There is a particular brand of seed that sells for Rs 40-60 a kg and is popular among Sahariya tribes. I do not understand how it could be linked to starvation,” Gehlot said.
Maharashtra chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh will find it difficult defending his government in view of a series of communal disturbances in Sholapur, Aurangabad and other regions of the state. Though he plans to put the blame on the Shiv Sena-BJP combine for maligning his government, there are few takers for his line of defence.
“Maharashtra is perhaps the worst governed among the Congress-ruled states. Something has to be done as the continuation of this regime is more of a liability than an asset,” said a senior Congress Working Committee member.
The Mount Abu meet will be held without Uttaranchal chief minister Narain Dutt Tiwari and his Nagaland counterpart S.C. Jamir, who will be absent for unspecified reasons. Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmad Patel, Jammu and Kashmir unit chief Ghulam Nabi Azad, as well as senior party leaders Arjun Singh and R.K. Dhawan, M.L. Fotedar will also be absent from the meet meant for all those who matter in the party, indicating changing political equations.
In her opening remarks at the conclave, Sonia plans to focus on the Gujarat elections. With Mount Abu merely a 50- minute drive from Gujarat, Sonia is keen to send a loud message across.
The Congress chief plans to highlight the party’s USP of “good governance”, fiscal management, power reforms and ability to cater to the interest of the poorest of the poor in the era of economic liberalisation and globalisation. She would also refer to the elections in Jammu and Kashmir to show how the party kept the wider national interest in mind after the elections.
The two-day meet will have four sessions, with working lunches of sandwiches and pizzas in between. After Sonia’s opening remarks, the chief ministers will give their performance report in the light of the Guwahati resolve. They would then be cross-examined by party leaders such as Manmohan Singh and Pranab Mukherjee.
The first session would focus on rural development, agriculture, cooperatives, employment and how the weaker sections could benefit from economic reforms. Economist Y.K. Alagh would be the guest speaker, while MP Sushil Kumar Shinde would speak on the behalf of the party. Manmohan Singh would chair the second session, with educationist A.K. Shiv Kumar addressing the chief ministers on women empowerment, gender equality, education and health rights.
The next two sessions would deal with infrastructure development and internal security. Senior leader Shivraj Patil would deal with infrastructure, while Pranab Mukherjee and former IB chief M.K. Narayanan would throw light on internal security and how the security scenario could be tightened without sacrificing on human rights.