All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary and party’s UP in-charge Madhusudan Mistry was shouted down and not allowed to speak by a group of party leaders on the first of the two-day “chintan shivir” (brainstorming session) of the state Congress that began here Saturday.
According to some of the party leaders, who attended the session, a group of leaders “insulted and heckled” Mistry, forcing the latter to end his speech abruptly within a few minutes.
Sources said that those raising objections began “taunting” Mistry when he started listing the steps that were overlooked by the party and that resulted in party’s massive defeat in 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
The Congress could not win a single seat of the 26 in the Parliament from Gujarat. The assault on Mistry happened in the presence of Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) president Arjun Modhwadia and Congress Legislature Party leader Shankersinh Vaghela, who also lost the LS polls from Sabarkantha. Mistry too, lost against Narendra Modi in Vadodara by a margin of 5,70,128 votes.
The protesters asked Mistry why did he fail to raise the issues he was raising now, before the top leadership of the party prior to or during the elections to help improving the party’s performance.
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Mistry, who has been credited with the reorganisation of the party and its improved performance in Karnataka, Kerala and Lakshdweep in 2011, is considered to be very close to party vice-president Rahul Gandhi and is reported to have played a crucial role in selection of candidates in the politically critical UP and other states.
Party leaders close to Mistry alleged that this attack was “carefully planned and arranged” against him by his detractors in the party. They said that there were some people in the party who were “jealous” of his meteoric rise in the organisation and winning the trust of top leadership-party supremo Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi.
When asked to identify who could be behind Saturday’s interruption in the shibir, Mistry’s supporters, said they were “top leaders of the state unit”.
Sources close to Mistry said that the party high command was contemplating reorganisation of the state unit party and the name of Mistry was among the top of the probables under consideration of the party.
“Saturday’s disturbances seems to have been orchestrated by Mistry’s rivals to send a message to the party high command that he does not command any popularity among the local leaders and hence, he should not be considered for the top job in the state unit of the party,” Mistry’s supporters said.
The appointment of a new state president was due since December 20, 2012, when state party president Modhwadia resigned taking responsibility for the defeat in December 2012 Assembly polls.
However, he was allowed to continue because the party was not able to find a suitable person to lead it. Though Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Shankersinh Vaghela is considered to be strongest in the party considering his experience and popularity among the workers, he reportedly lacks confidence of the central party leaders.
In 2014 general elections, Mistry was appointed a member of Rahul Gandhi-led election coordination committee. He was deployed by Rahul to tour the country and gather information about the prospective candidates at the grassroots level.
Neither Mistry, nor Modhwadia, were available for comment.