Even as a high-powered committee is looking into the reasons for the partys debacle in recently concluded elections in three states,Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh on Saturday credited the Shiromani Akali Dal for outsmarting Congress strategy in Punjab.
The Akali Dal broad-based its ticket distribution system and made a strategic change from a Jat Sikh party to one that appeals to all communities. It was a strategy they learnt from the Congress. But the student outsmarted the teacher. Their success is an outcome of that – much like Goa where the BJP shed the Hindu tag and fielded six Catholics and all won, he said.
Notably,the Congress fielded a higher number of Jat Sikhs in Punjab elections. The party,which traditionally banks on Hindu,SC and non- Jat Sikh communities,fielded 41 Jat Sikhs,including 15 in urban district headquarters across Malwa,Majha and Doaba. In fact,in most seats that witnessed a Jat Sikh versus Hindu candidate fight,the latter won.
On state Congress contention that the Parkash Singh Badal government took all the credit for central schemes,including rural roads constructed under Prime Minister Gramin Sadak Yojana (PMGSY),he said the credit for implementation of the schemes does go to the state. All state governments are taking credit for central schemes be it Bihar or Punjab, he added.
Earlier,while addressing a press conference at the Congress Bhawan,he said there should be no politics on central schemes. They are not charity given to state. We give money and the states implement it. But the states have to also give due rights to panchayati raj institutions. And since it is states that implement them,any mismanagement or diversion of funds is wrong and not acceptable, he added.
Interestingly,the minister,who admitted to being asked by Congress colleagues not to ignore politics while discharging duties as cabinet minister,found himself bombarded with complaints by the state leaders against the Badal government. After dinner at Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badals residence yesterday and a joint press conference in the morning today,Ramesh spent the next few hours at the Congress Bhawan listening to state leaders. Sources said it may be a fallout of the state leaders complaint to party president Sonia Gandhi last week in which they alleged that that Union ministers visiting Punjab ignored their own party leaders.