The Telegraph
Thursday , February 13 , 2014
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Nilekani set for Cong manifesto meeting

Nandan Nilekani

New Delhi, Feb. 12: The Congress, which is wrapping up its consultative process for manifesto making, believes the exercise is a step towards deepening Indian democracy as it involves the common people in setting the agenda for governance.

Although the plan initially involved a few meetings on empowerment of SC/STs, minorities and women, youths, farmers and industry, its success encouraged the party to include foreign affairs, labour and street vendors, economy, panchayat representatives, railway porters, energy and transportation.

The party’s communications chief, Ajay Maken, described this idea floated by Rahul Gandhi as “extremely enriching” as he explained how the process helped the Congress connect with different sections of society.

The exercise was supposed to end yesterday with a meeting between Rahul and farmers in Sonepat in Haryana but that has been postponed to February 24.

Maken said the “suggestions” from the meetings will be reflected in the manifesto.

The Congress brought in experts at the meetings. The meeting on foreign affairs included former foreign secretary M.K. Rasgotra and expert on ethnic conflict Radha Kumar who participated along with foreign minister Salman Khurshid.

Nandan Nilekani will attend tomorrow’s meeting on energy and transportation along with senior leaders. Nilekani has yet to join the Congress but he has been part of Rahul’s think tank and is expected to contest the Lok Sabha poll from Bangalore.

Rahul did not attend all the meetings but drafted ministers for the interactions.

A leader said: “These meetings went off very well, unlike the interview Rahul gave, and sent out a message of his sincerity and purposefulness. As most of these interactions were telecast live, it also helped the Congress occupy some media space.”

Congress leaders claim the party manifesto will be put up for public discussion at least two months before the election. The party has also created a website where citizens can give suggestions.