Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Friday asked chief ministers of Congress-run governments to implement “with urgency” steps to “mitigate the disastrous impact of the current economic slowdown” and pave the way for “economic re-monetization”.
She also asked them to put in place an “effective strategy” to deal with the “roadblocks” that the Narendra Modi government allegedly creates in the implementation of central schemes and programmes by the Congress ruled states.
Given the fiscal burden that implementing the scheme might entail, the leaders thought it's wiser to postpone any plans to roll out the Congress promise of ‘Nyay’, or minimum income guarantee. Sources said it was after all the promise for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, and not assembly elections in these states.
Gandhi, who took over as the Congress president a month back, met chief ministers of Congress-governed states. Chief Ministers Amarinder Singh of Punjab, Ashok Gehlot of Rajasthan, Kamal Nath of Madhya Pradesh, Bhupesh Baghel of Chhattisgarh, and V Narayanasamy of the union territory of Puducherry attended the meeting at her residence 10, Janpath. That all of them attended highlighted how Rahul Gandhi had failed to command the allegiance of at least a couple of them, who would skip, on some pretext, meetings called by him when he was party chief.
Chiefs of the party’s units in these states, respective general secretaries in-charges, former prime minister Manmohan Singh, senior leaders AK Antony and Ahmed Patel and general secretary (organisation) K C Venugopal also attended, as did Rajasthan deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot.
The meeting accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of “constant” attempts at “destabilizing” Congress governments as a “diabolic game”. Gandhi asked chief ministers to provide a sensitive government, to crackdown on corruption and involve party workers in implementation of government schemes and programmes. Each Congress-run state will soon have a coordination committee to oversee implementation of respective manifesto promises.
Gandhi asked leaders to end infighting in state units. In Rajasthan, Gehlot and Pilot are not always on the same page. In Madhya Pradesh, not all is well between Nath and Digvijaya Singh on one side and Jyotiraditya Scindia on the other. In Punjab, there has been tension between Amarinder Singh and Navjot Singh Sidhu. She asked respective state governments to ensure ministers sit in the offices of the state unit to address public grievances.
After the meeting, Pilot said the meeting discussed the need to “reward” party workers in these states who have worked hard for the electoral wins of the party, and accord them the respect they deserved. Apart from deputy chief minister of Rajasthan, Pilot is also the state unit chief of Rajasthan.
Punjab CM Amarinder Singh told the meeting that his government has implemented 140 of the 161 promises made during the Assembly polls in 2017. He said the Congress chief lauded the Punjab government for raising Rs 50,000 crore on-ground investments in the last two years.
Gandhi said “alternate governance model” that is “people centric and inclusive” in Congress-run states, along “with the national agitational endeavour” of the party, “were the most effective way to deal with and defeat the anti-people governments of the BJP”. The Congress has plans to hit the streets from October 15 to 25 to protest economic slowdown.