The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Seat shuffle scare for Cong

Jaipur, Feb. 13: The Congress leadership is disturbed over the draft proposals of the Delimitation Committee for the Lok Sabha and Assembly constituencies in Rajasthan.

The Congress Co-ordination Committee headed by general secretary Ambika Soni, which met here today for the first time after its constitution last month, devoted more than half of its time to the issue.

The concern is understandable. The recommendations, if finalised as they are, would disturb the caste equations in a large number of constituencies.

If the suggestions are accepted by the commission, set up at the national level under the chairmanship of Justice Kuldeep Singh, prominent Congress leaders, including state party president Girija Vyas, MP Buta Singh and several ministers in the Ashok Gehlot government, will have to look for new seats.

Even the chief ministerís own constituency will have new caste equations.

Immediately after the three-hour meeting at the official residence of the chief minister, Soni and senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee, also a member of the co-ordination committee, said the party will challenge the recommendations. It was decided that alternative proposals would be submitted for almost all the constituencies at the commissionís meeting on February 21.

Surprisingly, the meeting began without a fixed agenda and most of the co-ordination committee members were unaware of what was in the offing. Soni clarified later that an agenda would be circulated before the next meeting.

She said the high command has decided that members of the Manifesto Implementation Committee will be on the Congress Co-ordination Committee and would make suggestions to be incorporated in the agenda.

However, despite the co-ordination committee, a better understanding between the government and the organisation appears to be a far cry in the state party.

Forty-eight hours before the members of the committee arrived from Delhi, a senior general secretary of the state Congress, Laxman Singh, also a backward class MLA, wrote to Sonia Gandhi announcing his resignation, protesting against the style of Gehlotís functioning.

The letter, virtually a chargesheet against the state government, mentions 13 reasons for the recent drubbing of the party in the three Assembly bypolls.

Singh alleged that the government gave no importance to the state Congress organisation. It did not even acknowledge letters from the PCC chief, he said.

Among the reasons he cited as responsible for the bypolls debacle were the insult heaped on party workers by the government and appointment of pro-RSS officials to key posts.

Unhappy government employees, a powerful section of the peasantry and the youths led to the rout, the letter said.

Partisan implementation of various developmental works, wrong priorities, wide spread corruption, weakening of panchayati raj institutions and the worsening law and order situation were also mentioned.

The government is holding the organisation responsible for the defeats, Singh reminded, even as he warned Sonia that under the circumstances, the party was likely to lose Rajasthan and power at the Centre would be a distant dream.

Soni refused to comment, saying she did not know of any such letter.

Singh said he would write to Sonia every week to apprise her of the ďground realitiesĒ.

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