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Cong’s sloppy global outfit knocked out without landing single punch

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Washington, May 9:  For the past many years, the Indian Overseas Congress’ (IOC) only task was to organise Congress MP Rahul Gandhi’s visits to the United States, the United Kingdom and other countries with strong Indian diaspora presence.

It was not seen or heard in between these visits. In recent years though, it was unable to even perform this one task on its own.

The BJP’s international presence, guided by the Overseas Friends of the BJP-USA, by contrast, had stood up a formidable organisation.

The aggressive lobbying by the political wing of the party even came to the attention of the US federal authorities who forced it to register itself as a ‘foreign agent’ in 2020, with a number of representatives.

Now, Sam Pitroda’s exit as Chairman of the IOC over remarks described by critics as “racist” has brought a new focus on the state of the global wings of the two parties.

Analysts reckon that the overseas Congress unit has indeed been “sloppy” in managing affairs on several occasions.

IOC is present in 32 countries and 12 cities in the United States. Its membership is robust — in the “thousands”, a senior functionary, who spoke to IANS — but there is very scarce evidence of it on the ground.

Rahul Gandhi’s three-city tour of the United States in June 2023 exposed the bleak state of the outfit when the chief organisers struggled to arrange both venues and attendees.

The visit was occasioned by a speaking invitation from Stanford University in California months in advance. Closer to the travel dates, the Congress scored a stunning victory in the Karnataka election, which created a sudden spike in demand in the US for Gandhi.

Think tanks were interested, as were scores of other organisations. The organisers spotted an opportunity to tap into this surge in interest.

However, the Piroda-led IOC was organisationally hobbled by the lack of members who could deliver.

The organisers turned to a man who has emerged in recent years as the Pied Piper of anti-Modi sentiments in Washington DC, the power capital of the world.

“I am not a member of Congress,” this person had said to IANS at the time, refusing to be identified. “I am doing this as a personal favour.” He had declined to be identified.

This person became the final word on invitations and schedules about Rahul Gandhi who had high-level meetings during a visit to DC, including with Donald Lu, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia.

It was a significant gesture from the Biden administration which has embraced the Modi government and accorded the Prime Minister a glitzy state dinner.

IANS

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