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Cong to initiate pro-Dalit drive on Rahul's birthday

By Renu Mittal
June 16, 2009 21:25 IST
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June 19 is All India Congress Committee General Secretary Rahul Gandhi's birthday. It would be his first after the party's almost decisive victory in the Lok Sabha elections. And the party wants to say 'thank you' to the young leader in style and substance.

Highly placed sources disclosed that the Congress would be projecting Rahul as a mass leader on his birthday and as a messiah of the dalits. For this an elaborate programme has been chalked out by the AICC leaders on the instructions of 10, Janpath.

Sources said that every worker from the block, district, Pradesh and AICC level would have a meal with a dalit on June 19 and would take a pledge to bring them into the mainstream, as well as work to remove all discrimination against them. The huge nation wide programme would focus the nation's attention on the dalits of the country and their plight.

The idea for the programme is a spin-off to the time that Rahul spent with the dalits, going to their homes, sleeping inside their modest dwellings and in the process creating an empathy with them, rather than the standard sympathy that political parties and leaders are known for.

A meeting of the AICC general secretaries and state in-charges was held on Tuesday evening, where the ostensible purpose was the membership drive in the Congress as a prelude to the organisational elections. But the main import of the meeting was to distribute responsibilities to the AICC leaders to activate the programme in their states for the young leader's birthday.

Before the meeting, Suman Dubey known to be a close confidant of Sonia Gandhi, came to meet AICC Treasurer Motilal Vora, though it is not known whether the two discussed the modalities of this programme or something else.

The Congress sees the huge dalit population spread across the country as a captive vote bank, but so far the party had been unable to make any connect with the downtrodden and the deprived. With Rahul's forays into the hinterland, it was felt that the marginalised were beginning to respond and now this was the next step in the process.

This is similar to the 20 point programme which Indira Gandhi was famed for, whereby the leader would be projected as being one of the people. The idea is to involve the youth and make it community service. Leaders and workers from the block to the AICC would be participating in their states.

It is learnt that the entire operation is being kept rather 'hush-hush', but late on Tuesday evening the entire party machinery was set in motion to ensure that it is handled smoothly and without any glitches.

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Renu Mittal