The poor response to the membership enrolment drive ahead of the organisational elections has left top leadership in the Congress worried in Maharashtra. May 15, which was the last date for the drive, failed to elicit the desired response within the party members as well outsiders.
A section within the party has also urged the AICC to urge the election commission to give further extension. However, no decision has been conveyed to the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) as yet.
MPCC president Ashok Chavan said, “The Congress central observer Mahesh Joshi (ex-MP, Rajasthan) will arrive in Mumbai on Friday. We are assimilating the reports from various districts across state. Our focus is on organisational elections which mandates we have to cover at least 60 per cent of our total booths.”
Party leaders have reconciled that in current political situation great enthusiasm amongst the people to get associated with Congress was not expected. However, what makes district leaders — especially in Vidarbha, Marathwada and western Maharashtra — worried is the lack of initiative from the Congress members during the enrolment drive.
A senior functionary involved in the enrolment process revealed, “Frankly, our enrolment drive is not going to match the BJP, which has digitally registered 1.10 crore members in state. We are looking at meeting the moderate target, beginning with 10 to 15 lakh members who have always remained loyal party workers.”
A former senior Congress minister from western Maharashtra requesting anonymity told The Indian Express, “As per our party guidelines, an individual can become an active Congress member eligible to contest elections or become an office-bearer provided he enrolls 25 members. We sense poor response from party leaders even in this exercise.”
Officially, MPCC believes the summer season is not suitable for the membership enrolment. People are on vacation, students busy with examination and farmers caught in their own problems. In the absence of immediate polls, enrolment appears a disconnect with people. At least 25 senior Congress leaders, who have been associated with the party for the last three decades, elicited similar response on the current membership and organisational election drive.
An MPCC office-bearer said, “The cadre is demoralised after the 2014 Lok Sabha and Assembly elections. The successive poll victory of the BJP in municipal council, zilla parishad and gram panchayat elections have left even the established MLAs worried.” Secondly, he said, “There are no efforts from the AICC or MPCC to hold internal brain-storming sessions to streamline the organisation or do long-term planning.”
The reports across Marathwada, Vidarbha, north Maharashtra, western Maharashtra and Konkan have shown that the Congress local workers are not taking the extra initiative which was necessary to connect the people with the party ahead of the organisational polls.
A senior leader from Konkan said, “Today, we don’t know the status of our own senior leader like Narayan Rane who attacks party leaders one day and praises them the next day.” Similarly, the ongoing four-phase “Sangharsh Yatra” saw the NCP hijacking the rallies at every place. Several senior leaders who could have made a difference were kept out of the yatra.