New Delhi: With a series of elections including the Lok Sabha fast approaching, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is embarking on an exercise on Friday to set the party's house in order in the states. Rahul has called a two-day meeting of the Pradesh Congress Committee presidents and Congress Legislative Party leaders for a free and frank interaction on the problems and prospects of the organisation. Party sources said that there is no formal agenda for the meeting, the first such interaction after Rahul was elevated as the vice-president of the Congress at the Jaipur Chintan Shivir in January.
The deliberations assume significance as Assembly elections in nine states, including Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Delhi, are scheduled in 2013 while the Lok Sabha polls are just 15 months away. At the same time, the meeting is also being held after the recently concluded exercise at the AICC where Rahul heard problems and suggestions from national office bearers ahead of changes in the party.
Though the Congress is in power in a dozen odd states, Andhra Pradesh is the only major state where it has a government on its own. Problems have cropped up there due to the Telangana issue and emergence of the YSR Congress. The Congress is out of power for several years in major states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu. The party has been out of power for more than three decades in West Bengal except for a brief period when it was part of the the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress government.
Rahul has often lamented about absence of rules and regulations governing the organisation. Reports already had it that one-line resolutions from states authorising the Congress high command to decide candidates in elections could be a thing of the past with Rahul set to tone up the functioning of the party. Congress sources said Rahul could instead ask for elaborate procedures to make ticket distribution a foolproof affair.