The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cong to lean on veterans for polls

New Delhi, Jan. 8: The Congress, unwilling to take any chances with the Assembly polls in nine states this year, has decided to involve senior central leaders in chalking out the election strategy.

After last weekend’s Congress Working Committee meeting, party president Sonia Gandhi is convinced about the necessity of using the experience of senior CWC leaders to good effect.

The CWC had debated the Gujarat poll debacle and looked to pin responsibility for the electoral loss. To prevent a repeat, Sonia has decided to set up a panel of three or four CWC members for each poll-bound state.

The panel for each state will work with the AICC general-secretary in charge of that state, party sources said.

The first of such panels is already at work in Himachal Pradesh. Motilal Vora and Ahmed Patel have been asked to shortlist candidates for the Himachal polls next month.

Though their involvement has provoked some questions, the sources said Vora and Patel would not undermine the authority of Mohsina Kidwai, the AICC general-secretary in charge of Himachal.

Not just the panels, the Congress plans to come up with an action programme to counter the BJP propaganda based on Hindutva and terrorism, a senior party leader said today.

Over the last three days, Sonia has consulted AICC office-bearers several times to finalise the programme.

She has also decided to quell speculations on the leadership in Rajasthan and Maharashtra. Media reports on likely change of the Congress chief ministers in these states have given Sonia some cause for concern.

“We cannot allow this uncertainty to continue,” the senior leader said. All doubts would be erased in a few days, the leader said.

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