Nagpur: In a surprise move that could give a jolt to the Congress party, the Sewagram Ashram Pratishthan has refused the permission to the Congress Party for holding the meeting of Congress Working Committee (CWC) on October 2, 2018 coinciding the 150thbirth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
The Congress party has earlier decided to hold the CWC meeting at Sewagram Ashram where Mahatma Gandhi stayed and directed the freedom movement. This could be Congress party’s first such meeting ever held at Sewagram after the independence. But the management has refused the permission forcing the Congress party to shift the venue to the ground of Lok Mahavidyalaya situated on the Bachelor Road in Wardha.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi, his mother Sonia, former PM Manmohan Singh, senior members of the Congress party and CWC office-bearers are expected to attend the meeting. The leaders are likely to discuss the current political scenario and issues of national importance to decide the party’s stand on them.
In an apparent attempt to reclaim Mahatma Gandhi symbolism around whom is successfully used by the Bharatiya Janata Party in popularising and promoting ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’, the Congress has planned this meeting, first ever to be held outside the National Capital.
Sources also said that the Congress seemed to have been put under pressure following the ‘RSS Outreach’ program in Delhi in which the Sarsanghchalak of RSS spoke directly to the selective audience drawn from various sectors of national life and also to the countrymen three days in a series explaining RSS to them in a direct communication.
The decision of the Congress party to hold the CWC meeting at Sewagram Ashram is thus an attempt to garner strength to take on the RSS-BJP combine. Mahatma Gandhi has been the part of the Congress movement and BJP’s attempt to stake claim to Gandhi is senseless, a senior Congress leader said. People still have not forgotten and forgiven Nathuram Godse, this leader said.
The Congress party has planned a series of events during the CWC meeting including a ‘shraddhanjali’ to Mahtama Gandhi, a padayatra or the Shanti March from Sevagram to Wardha led by Party President Rahul Gandhi and other senior leaders and a public meeting at Wardha in the evening to be addressed by Rahul Gandhi and other senior leaders. A crowd of over 50,000 is expected at the public meeting, Congress party sources said.
However, the Congress plans received a serious setback with the Sewagram Ashram trustees refusing permission for holding the CWC meeting in their premises. Senior Congress leaders Ashok Gehlot and MPCC President Ashok Chavhan conducted the meeting of the party workers at Nagpur on Monday.
Many leaders from Mumbai and Delhi have reached for preparations of the meeting. Former Minister Nitin Raut, Rajya sabha Member Avinash Pande and Wardha MLA Ranjit Kamble have been entrusted with the responsibility of the preparation of the meeting.
On Monday, senior Congress leaders, including Ashok Gehlot, Ashok Chavan, Vilas Muttemwar and Avinash Pande, met ashram president T R N Prabhu. “We told them that as a matter of policy, we don’t offer the ashram space to political parties for any programme. As it is, we had planned some programmes for the day, including prabhat pheri, prayer and speeches. But we have said they can visit Bapu Kuti and also participate in prayer,” Prabhu said.