Accusing the BJD government in Odisha of hijacking central funds, Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi today promised to stamp out infighting in the party in the state soon to brighten its prospects in the next general elections.
"Being in Delhi, it is our responsibility to work for Odisha and we are doing a lot ... But it is a different matter that (chief minister) Naveen Patnaik is describing our
(Centre) funds as their's," he told reporters, winding up his two-day visit to
Noting that people were aware of central funds being hijacked, he said allegations about infighting in the party in Odisha came to his notice during interactions with grassroots level leaders at Sambalpur and
"I can assure (you) that infighting will be sorted out within three months. There will be remarkable change in the party and unity among
partymen," Rahul said.
To a query, the Congress leader said, "There is no magic wand with me but it is there in the Congress party. Change will follow when the inherent magic unfolds."
Maintaining that the prospects of Congress were very high in the next elections due in 2014, Rahul said partymen would have to work hard with dedication to improve performance.
Promising to accord due weightage to opinions of grassroots workers and leaders, the Amethi MP said, "Grassroots level leaders will not be sidelined. Larger voices will be heard."
Though there was an attempt by some BJD workers to display black flags at
Cuttack, it was foiled, police said.
Members of Dongaria Kandh tribe visited the venue of Rahul's programme to draw his attention to their problems.
During a visit to Lanjigarh in Kandhamal district in 2010, he had told the tribesmen that he was their
'sipahi in Delhi Durbar'.
"Rahul's visit and his close interactions with grassroots leaders will go a long way in strengthening the party," Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee President Niranjan Patnaik said.
Rahul offered a three-point solution to improve Congress prospects in the BJD-ruled state, which included giving tickets in time, bringing in unity and empowering grassroots leaders.
He said Congress has a healthy vote share of about 30 per cent in the state and requires discipline and unity to ensure a victory in the next elections.
His meeting in Odisha marks the beginning of his similar visits to other states after he held a three-day interaction programme with AICC office bearers and a two-day meet with PCC chiefs and CLP leaders in the national capital.
He lauded the high-potential of the state Congress leaders and said it was important to harness their strengths. Congress is out of power in Odisha since 2000.
Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee chief Niranjan Patnaik told Rahul during the interaction that the partymen were enthused by his speech at Congress Chintan Shivir in Jaipur in which he had stressed the need for rules and focus on grassroots workers and now it was time for the Congress Vice President to implement whatever he had said then, sources said.
Patnaik also said that to rejuvenate the party it is important to have "workers who are well informed, who can take up popular issues and remain connected with the people."
"Often we have not spent enough time or energy in building our workers, building an ideological base. No party can survive without an ideology. So, building an organisation with workers who are committed to the Congress ideology is the key to the revival of the
organisation," he said.
During the interaction, Rahul said clear demarcation of accountability will be made.
Patnaik said chances of a win in the state should not be spoilt by in-fighting.
"Our disunity is BJD's strength and this has to be understood. We also know contradictions within BJD can be a big advantage if we stay united and if we ensure that our voters remain with us," he said.
Patnaik talked about the party's state-wide movement for parivartan in the last six months.
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