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Ministers inaccessible, allies no help, grumble Cong leaders


As Congress’ highest decision-making body met in the Capital Monday, its state leaders did some straight talking — central ministers were inaccessible, and UPA allies high-handed. As she defended Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, under attack from the civil society and the Opposition over

graft charges, Sonia Gandhi in her address to the Congress Working Committee (CWC) asked cadres to shun factionalism and fight back.


While price rise, petrol hike and corruption dominated the six-hour-long CWC meeting held after almost a year, 20 of the 42 speakers directed their ire at the ministers.


“It is easier to meet the Congress president than union ministers,” said Kerala Congress chief Ramesh Chennithala, setting the tone with a stinging attack. “The ministers don’t bother to inform party offices whenever they visit states.”


Echoing his views, Chhattisgarh unit chief Nand Kumar Patel and Madhya Pradesh legislature party leader Ajay Singh said ministers should devote more time to organisational work and visit to party offices should be mandatory for them. They were also critical of the ministers for lavishing praise on Opposition-ruled states. 


Rural development minister Jairam Ramesh was effusive in his praise of the BJP government in Chhattisgarh during a recent visit.


Demanding empowerment of state leaders, Nagaland Congress chief SI Jamir said sidelining of local leadership had strengthened regional forces.


Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda proposed revival of the Kamraj Plan of 1963 when all union ministers and CMs offered to quit and work for the party. He, too, made a similar offer but found no takers.


Allies, especially the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Trianmool Congress, came under fire as well. “Our main fight is with the NCP and not the BJP or the Shiv Sena… Sharad Pawar takes credit for all UPA initiatives,” Maharashtra Congress chief Manikrao Thakre complained.


His West Bengal counterpart Pradip Bhattacharya and CLP leader Mohammad Sohrab attacked Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee for not allowing them to “work freely”.



Sonia to pick  prez nominee


Congress chief Sonia Gandhi has been authorised to nominate party’s presidential and vice-presidential candidates. Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, seen as a presidential race frontrunner, moved the proposal at the CWC meeting. (HTC)


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