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Congress membership drive gets lukewarm reponse: Party leaders

Maharashtra-CongressMaharashtra Congress’ ongoing membership drive has so far failed to evoke an enthusiastic response from the state cadre of the party, which is still reeling under the defeats faced in Lok Sabha as well as Assembly polls this year.

The membership drive ends on December 31 following which the organisational elections will be held.

A senior Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) functionary told that the lukewarm response from the cadre was due to the past experience where despite getting sizeable number of members, the genuine grassroot workers were overlooked for appointments as district unit chief or office- bearers.
“They complain no matter how hard they work, they will not be rewarded. Last time, people close to the local MP and leaders were made district unit chiefs or block presidents, who had no role in the membership drive,” another functionary complained.

So far, 90,000 membership books have been taken by workers from the party office. One book is for 25 members. The target is minimum 25 members in each booth, party office-bearers said.

“If all the books are utilised, it would be 22.50 lakh members. In Mumbai, 31,000 membership books have been distributed. If all the books are utilised, it would mean enrolment of 7.5 lakh members,” they said.

In one block or ward, 50 per cent of the booths need to be completed for conduct of organisational elections, party officials said.

Mumbai Congress General Secretary Dharmesh Vyas said the submission of the membership books will start after December 31.

“Collection has been normal. Let’s see the exact numbers after submissions, after which we will come to know if the response was lukewarm,” Vyas said.

Another party leader claimed that though the response to the membership drive had been lacklustre initially, it picked up later.

“No one is taking the drive seriously. There is a feeling among the cadre that their efforts go in vain,” another functionary said.

He said a new system of district returning officer (DRO) was initiated after the last organisational elections, where the DRO is appointed by the local MP or leader and entrusted with the task of holding block-wise election.

“In this system, the genuine workers were ignored,” he said.

According to the party official, election defeats are not new to Congress. “But the grassroot cadre has never been so demoralised like now. Their self-confidence is at the lowest ebb. Despite being in power for 15 years, the ordinary party worker was neglected and the job of organisational strengthening was overlooked,” the official said.

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