The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Revamp bell tolls for Congress

Ranchi, April 5: The Congress state unit is bracing for a shake-up.

Sources in the All India Congress Committee (AICC) said the party high command is considering a 'complete overhaul' of the state unit. The move is aimed at boosting the morale of workers, who are yet to come to terms with the performance in the Assembly election. Moreover, the central leadership is also peeved at the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC)'s lack of direction both during the Assembly election and during the events leading up to government formation. Only a new team can inject a fresh lease of life into a highly demoralised set-up, feel leaders.

A senior AICC leader said: 'We are in the process of assessing the feedback from all quarters. Senior leaders are busy with the ongoing Dandi march. After the conclusion of the march, we will review the situation in Jharkhand and take appropriate steps.'

Asked what changes were in the offing, the senior leader, who coordinated the Assembly election from Ranchi, said: 'Not only the president but the entire team will also be changed.'

Senior leaders, he said, were waiting for Sonia Gandhi's rally on April 6 before they take up the Jharkhand issue.

Besides the PCC, the party high command also has to take a decision on the Congress Legislature Party (CLP)leader. 'I think it will take about one month to arrive at any decision,' the leader said.

The state unit's inept handling of the recent political crisis has angered the party higher-ups the most.

'The PCC did not play any significant role in the Assembly as well as Lok Sabha elections. It seemed as if they did exist during the May election. They also did not play any role in government formation,' he added.

The central leadership is also believed to be reviewing its stance on having a tribal president at the helm of the party. According to sources, a powerful lobby is working to convince the high command of the political wisdom in appointing a non-tribal leader.

'So far the Congress has appointed only tribals as presidents. But if it wants to expand its base in the region, it will have to come out of that mould,' the senior leader said.

Another senior party leader argued that the party could not ignore the non-tribal vote bank. 'All the other major parties in Jharkhand have been able to make a dent in the non-tribal vote bank by promoting non-tribal leaders. In BJP, the party president is usually a non-tribal whereas the chief minister is a tribal. A similar formula should be worked out in Congress. The president's post can go to a non-tribal whereas the CLP leader's post can be held by a tribal,' he said.

The party cannot afford to disregard electoral arithmetic. 'There are 73 per cent sadans here. The party should respect their sentiments. It will have to change the perception that Congress belongs to tribals only. This is possible only if a non-tribal is given the charge of the state unit.'

The Congress has already announced the schedule for organisational elections in the state. Election of presidents and executives of primary committees, election of block members by primary committees are to be completed from April 10 to 20. Election of presidents and members of the block executive committee, district committees and pradesh committee by the general body of the block committees will be held between April 25 and May 5. The date for election of Pradesh Congress president, Pradesh executives and AICC members will be held sometime in May.

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