THE high-profile visit of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, the first after his elevation in the party to Uttarakhand, has given a clear and loud message to party leaders that grassroot party workers cannot be ignored in the new dispensation, particularly in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls in 2014.
Rahul Gandhi made it clear verbally as well as by his actions that he would rely more on the grassroot party functionaries rather than depending solely on the regional party straps who had been running their own individual factions and camps and working for their own petty interests at the cost of the party.

In a marked change, Rahul Gandhi interacted one to one with the grassroot party functionaries from each district and listened to their views and woes. To give a curt message, he told the senior party leaders, including general secretary in charge Birender Singh, Union Minister Harish Rawat, state Congress Chief Yashpal Arya and Pauri Garhwal MP Satpal Maharaj, to cool their heels outside as he interacted with the party functionaries.
Rahul Gandhi was also candid in showing his displeasure at the going-ons in the party affairs and the method of ticket distribution at the time of assembly or other elections.
He openly opposed the method of decision making in ticket allocation by a coterie of senior party leaders who decide ticket nominations as per their wishes and fancies. He categorically stated that in the coming days this pattern is going to change in the party and a more decentralised system where candidate would be nominated from the block level would be introduced.
His visit also gave an opportunity to him to assess the popularity of his own Congress state government which would be completing its first year in office this week through the eyes of the common Congress worker in the field.
As per the reports, Congress party workers in their one to one meeting with their leader gave vent to their anger and frustration at the failure of governance of the state government in every field. The state party organisation also came under immense fire as various factions did not let go the opportunity to embarrass the party leadership and undue interference by senior state party leaders.
Although, Rahul Gandhi kept his cool but he did let know his displeasure to some of the senior party leaders, particularly senior minister Indira Hariydesh who was told that there were so many complaints against her by party workers from her own districts. Interestingly, state Congress chief Yashpal Arya and Indira Hariydesh, both hailing from Haldwani town, are arch political rivals.
The Congress vice-president, also put Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna and state Congress chief Yashpal Arya on notice by telling them to improve coordination between the state government and the party organisation as he would be re-assessing their performance during his next visit within three months.
Rahul Gandhi was also particularly worried about the outcome of the Lok Sabha poll scheduled to be held in May 2014. The response of the party workers was reportedly not very encouraging on this poser.
His visit did start showing effect as both Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna and Union Water Resources Minister Harish Rawat met the very next day for two hours. The message was clear to bury their differences for better performance in the coming Lok Sabha polls. It will be seen what changes Rahul Gandhi envisages to galvanise the party in Uttarakhand.

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