The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Debacle probe on CWC plate

New Delhi, Jan. 4: The absence of Nagaland chief minister S.C. Jamir and the lack of representation from PCCs of election-bound Meghalaya, Tripura and Himachal Pradesh are unlikely to have any bearing on tomorrow’s Congress Working Committee meet in the capital. Nor will there be any place in it for Gujarat PCC chief Shankersinh Vaghela.

However, the CWC is slated to review the Gujarat results and discuss the party’s strategies for the ensuing Assembly polls in the three states. A senior CWC member summed up the mood: “We all know what happened in Gujarat and we are all collectively responsible for it.”

As regards preparations for the Assembly elections, AICC leaders said the concerned party general secretaries were already in consultation with party president Sonia Gandhi and the respective PCC leaderships.

The central theme of the deliberations will be devoted to assessing the larger political implications of the Gujarat outcome. Such a stock-taking is considered critical as the Congress is faced with the immediate challenge of fighting the February-March elections, but more crucially, the last round of Assembly polls in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Delhi before the general elections.

That is perhaps why the absence of the chief ministers of Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh or possibly even Uttaranchal from the meet might not matter. What is significant is the presence of chief ministers of the electorally more important states like Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka, who have already arrived in the capital to attend the CWC meet to be chaired by Sonia.

AICC general secretary Kamal Nath, who is expected to return tonight from his visit abroad, is likely to kick off the discussions with his report on the Gujarat poll debacle.

An AICC source said Sonia was keen to see that a strong political message emerged from the deliberations, which will define the parameters of the Congress’ strategy to take on the BJP’s Hindutva and terrorism planks.

The sources suggested that the party chief might seek a discussion on toning up Congress governments and PCC set-ups in Congress-ruled states, particularly in Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Assam and Chhattisgarh. In at least two states — Rajasthan and Karnataka — organisational changes are expected and a section of party leaders in these states have even demanded the replacement of chief ministers to improve the image of the party.

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