Even as Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi stressed on strengthening the party organisation at his meetings with party leaders and workers of Saurashtra and north Gujarat on Friday,it turns out that the party does not even have its own office in Rajkot,the headquarters of Saurashtra and Kutch region. The city and district units of the party have been functioning from a small asbestos-roofed shed,owned by Rajkot (East) MLA Indranil Rajyaguru on Gondal road for the last 10 years.
However,even as Rahul visited the city on Friday,the shed from where Rajkot City Congress Committee functions saw little action. Rajyaguru hosted the meetings with Gandhi at his resort,Nil City Club,near the Saurashtra University Campus. Rajyaguru,a real estate developer,educationist and former deputy mayor of Rajkot,is the son of former president of Rajkot district panchayat Sanjayraj Rajyaguru,a dedicated Congressman. The younger Rajyaguru is currently Gujarats richest MLA going by his Rs 123 crore assets declared in the last Assembly elections.
While Rajyaguru could not be reached for comment,Rajkot city Congress unit president Jaswant Bhatti told The Indian Express that the MLA does not charge any rent for his shed on Gondal road which the party uses as its office.
Rajkot city,Bhavnagar city and district units of the party have been running under the same presidents for more than a decade. Junagadh and Rajkot district units have presidents in-charge for more than a year. Apart from the presidents of respective units,not many other officer-bearers are known figures in the public. Roughly,about 15 per cent positions of party office-bearers in district and city units are lying vacant, GPCC spokesperson Manish Doshi said.
Out of the eight undivided districts in Saurashtra and Kutch,Congress has its own offices in Junagadh,Jamnagar,Bhavnagar and Kutch only. In Porbandar,the hometown of Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) chief Arjun Modhwadia,the party functions from a small complex near Sudama Chowk,but a legal dispute over its ownership has been going on for the last four years.
In Bhavnagar,the district unit has its own office near Jilla Pathik Bhavan,but the city unit operates from a part of its president Dr DB Raningas clinic in Doctors House near Kala Nala. In Amreli district,former Congress MP Virjibhai Thummar has offered his two shops in a commercial complex on Station Road to be used as party office.
In Surendrangar,the constituency of MP Somabhai Patel,the party has got space on rent in a commercial complex on Tower Road for office purpose. At taluka levels,the presidents of respective units arrange for offices on their own, said a Congress leader from Surendranagar. The offices of Congress MLAs and MPs also act as party offices in respective areas,party leaders said.
Interestingly,BJP,which has been in power for the last 17 years,owns swanky offices in Rajkot,Bhavnagar,Porbandar,Jamnagar,Kutch and Amreli.