An experiment in revival

All eyes are on the new experiment that Rahul Gandhi has undertaken in Uttar Pradesh: to divide the state into eight zones intended to effect the revival of the fledgling prospects of the Congress party before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

Each zone has been further divided into 10 Lok Sabha constituencies – with one president and one vice-president heading each constituency. While nominating the presidents and vice-presidents of the eight zones, Gandhi has tried to maintain caste and regional balance. Prominent politicians, who have been given the charge of respective zones, are P L Punia, Jatin Prasad, R P N Singh, Rasheed Masood, Raja Ram Pal, Anugrah Narain Singh, Brijendra Singh and Vivek Singh.

Before handing them out their assignments, Gandhi met all the zonal presidents and vice-presidents one by one in the presence of the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC) president Nirmal Khatri.

Within two months, they are expected to revamp or reconstitute the party organisation from the block to the district level in the Lok Sabha constituencies falling in the area under their jurisdiction. The eight vice presidents appointed are Pankaj Malik, Pradeep Chaudhary, Gayadeen Anuragi, Ruby Prasad, Nadeem Javed, Mukesh Srivastava, Lalitesh Pati Tripathi and Aslam Rainee. Except Rainee, all the other seven are party MLAs.

As per the work allocation: Zone-1, comprising 11 Lok Sabha constituencies and two Assembly segments of Hathras Lok Sabha seat of western UP, will have party MP Rashid Masood as president and Pankaj Malik as the vice president.

Zone-2 has the party’s former MP Brijendra Singh as its president and Pradeep Chaudhary as the vice president. It comprises nine Lok Sabha seats along with three Assembly segments of Hathras Lok Sabha.

Zone-3 has four Lok Sabha seats of Bundelkhand region along with three neighbouring Lok Sabha constituencies. It has party MP Raja Ram Pal as its president and Gayadeen Anuragi as the vice president.

Zone-4, headed by party MLA Vivek Singh, has Ruby Prasad as its vice president. It comprises 10 Lok Sabha seats of eastern UP.

Zone-5 has party MLA Anugraha Naraian Singh as its president and Nadeem Javed as its vice president. It also has 10 Lok Sabha constituencies of eastern UP.

Zone-6 has union minister of state for petroleum RPN Singh as its president and party leader Mukesh Srivastava as its vice president. It has 10 Lok Sabha seats of the Kurmi dominated belt.

Zone-7 has National Commission for Scheduled Caste chairman and party MP PL Punia as its president and Lalitesh Tripathi as the vice president. It has 11 Lok Sabha seats.

Zone-8 has union minister of state for surface transport Jitin Prasad as its president and party leader Aslam Rainee as its vice president. It comprises eight Lok Sabha seats. But the question remains whether this experiment by Gandhi and his computer boys will actually help in the revival of the party in a big way. Whether this will pave the way for a good number of seats from UP is yet to be seen.

UPCC President Nirmal Khatri is, nevertheless, very optimistic about the revitalisation of party organisation through the newly formed eight independent zones. Khatri has said that the party’s priority would be to make its presence from the grassroots level up to the state level.

But senior political analyst Ramesh Dixit says that the experiment of dividing the party set up in eight zones was a retrograde step that would damage the party.

Dixit said that even during pre-independence days, the party had set up state level units, but nobody could think of dividing it further into sub-state regions.

The division of party organisation in eight state zones indirectly support the demand for further division of UP and carve out still smaller states, Dixit opined. Dixit also commented that the opinion of party leaders and workers was not sought by the party leadership while introducing the zone system. He further said that the party was bound to become confused as a result of this experiment.

He further said that the authority of UPCC president Khatri has been eroded by this setting up of the eight independent zones. His role in this new set up has not been clearly defined which is creating more confusion. But on the other hand, another political analyst, Surendra Rajput, feels that the experiment of setting up of the eight zones will help in the revival of the party from village level to state level in a big way.

Rajput said that while making the appointment of zonal heads and their vice-presidents, only those who had played active role with the masses and had been involved with grassroots vote politics, have been given importance. Rajput said that Gandhi has dumped many of the deadwood figures occupying important positions for last so many years and has paved way for young and dynamic persons who have demonstrated their capability to actually win in the elections. [IPA]
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