In the first such exercise after the party’s debilitating defeat in the Lok Sabha elections last year, Congress president Sonia Gandhi has convened a meeting of party chief ministers next week. And on the agenda would be organisational issues, coordination between the party and the government besides formulating of a common approach on various issues to take on the BJP government at the Centre.
Sources said the conclave would be a perfect setting to counter the BJP government’s claims on cooperative federalism. Besides the Congress president, vice-president Rahul Gandhi and general secretaries in charge of states would attend the meeting on June 9. The leadership will assess the impact of the cuts in social sector spending by the Centre, a key theme of the Congress’s performance appraisal of the Narendra Modi government’s first year in office, and allocation for various Centrally-sponsored schemes, sources said.
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The Congress has been accusing the government of making huge cuts in allocation for social sector schemes, especially in the health and education sectors. With the party having launched a major agitation to protest changes in the land acquisition bill, the high command would take stock of the situation. The focus, sources said, would be to aggressively take on the Centre and to formulate a uniform response to issues.
“We have heard of non-Congress CMs like Odisha’s Naveen Patnaik and Bihar’s Nitish Kumar attacking the BJP government. But our CMs have not been that vocal,” a Congress leader said. Sources said the presence of general secretaries in the meeting is an indication that key organisational issues would also be discussed.
Sources said there is a sense that while the AICC has mounted an aggressive campaign against the Modi government, many of the party-ruled states did not exhibit the same vigour. Besides, sources said there is lack of coordination between the party and its governments in some states. At least two of the party-ruled states, Kerala and Assam, are going to polls next year.
Congress is in power in nine states — Kerala, Karnataka, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Manipur.