Ahmedabad: The rudderless and demoralised Congress dispensation in Gujarat suddenly seems to have found a purpose with the central leadership finally looking at the State.
The State Congress now has an in-charge deputed by the AICC in Rajasthan Health Minister and close Ashok Gehlot lieutenant Raghu Sharma. And within 24 hours of being given the onerous task of turning around the BJP’s darling state, Sharma landed in Gujarat on Saturday and is meeting Congressmen across the hierarchical divide.
A cross section of Congress leaders and senior partymen were elated, speaking to this correspondent that they have someone who had the patience to listen to everyone, while also sticking to his guns.
“A smallest party worker is happy if the leadership listens to them. Raghu Sharma is accessible, friendly and has no trappings of a central leadership representative or a minister,” Leader of Opposition Paresh Dhanani said, even as he spoke in the middle of a meeting of the Congress Legislature Party addressed by Sharma.
Dhanani went on, “This man has risen from the ranks, from NSUI, Youth Congress and here; he has understanding of grassroots issues and can identify issues.”
Asked about the first impressions of Sharma in the party in the State, Gujarat Congress chief spokesperson Manish Doshi said, “He is down to earth, has patience. He is firm as well as soft and treats everyone with respect. He has been received quite well in Gujarat.”
On a three-day visit to the State, Raghu Sharma is reaching out to the rank and file as well as the leaders in groups and in person. Immediately on landing in Ahmedabad, Sharma told reporters at the airport, “A new dawn will replace darkness in Gujarat Congress. We may have lost elections earlier, but we will win now.”
A senior state leader aptly summed up the first impressions of the Gujarat unit in the party, as he said, “When you are down in the dumps, even one word of inspiration can electrify you. That’s what Sharma has done.”
During one-on-one meetings with the Gujarat leaders, Sharma took their honest feedback about the state of affairs and, significantly, asked each one of them about their own contribution towards the party’s upliftment.
Credited with effectively taking on the Covid-19 crisis in his home state of Rajasthan, Sharma ridiculed Gujarat’s ham-fisted handling of the situation and pointed out that this was why the entire cabinet was sent packing.
Under his leadership, Sharma said, “Our party organization will be strengthened and we will work hard to expose the failures of the BJP government and launch state-wide agitations.”
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