Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Friday called for urgent reforms in the party and asked workers to “pay its Karz (debt)” to the party as it had “given a lot to everyone”. Addressing a group of Congress delegates who were looking to rehaul the party amid internal rebellion and constant electoral defeats, she said the grand old party will have to change its style of functioning and urged them to keep the organization above their personal ambitions.
Gandhi said the Congress, which had historically worked for the welfare of India, was currently faced with a series of unusual situations due to the BJP and its “anti-people policies”, and that it was time for the party to make changes within itself to work better.
She urged around 450 delegates to deliberate with an open mind but send out a single message of a strong organization, resolve, and unity. “In one way this (Congress transformation) is the most fundamental issue. Our revival is only possible through collective efforts. Such collective efforts will not be deferred. This Shivir is the start of the journey,” Gandhi said.
“The circumstances before our organization are unprecedented. Extraordinary situations demand extraordinary action. I am fully alert to this. The organization has to bring changes within itself, not just to stay alive but to move forward. We are in dire need of improvement and changing strategy,” she also said. She stressed that the Congress’s revival would only happen with grand collective efforts and those cannot be put off.
She also accused the Centre of “blatant undermining” the principles of the Constitution and its pillars of justice, liberty, equality, fraternity, and secularism. Gandhi alleged that the government was turning a blind eye to continued atrocities across the country on weaker sections, especially Dalits, Adivasis, and women. She also charged that the Centre was using fear to make the bureaucracy, corporate India, sections of the civil society, and the media fall in line.
She slammed the BJP for being “anti-minority, and for the inflation and job scarcity” that has currently gripped the nation, and said the party, RSS, and its affiliates were making life difficult for the majority of people “who wanted to live in peace and amity”.
The three-day ‘Chintan Shivar’ brainstorming session has the agenda for organizational reforms which will be put up, discussed, and later implemented. Addressing the gathering before Gandhi, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot had laid some guidelines for party workers to take care of during the conclave. He asked delegates to only be present at the committee to which they had been assigned, and to leave their mobile phones in lockers that the party had made provisions for.
The Congress General Secretary Ajay Maken had also made the case for changes within the party on Friday, saying, “Our opponents have been faster in adopting new things, so now onwards our party will see the change after the shivir.”
The Congress will make an assessment wing comprising leaders which will reward or remove anyone as per the performance. This was one of demands of the dissident group which had been saying that in poll losses nobody is made responsible.
Any office-bearer cannot hold a post for more than five years and the person has to step down. There will be a cooling of three years before a new assignment is given.
The party will make a public insight wing, which will be an in-house survey team and will do day to day surveys to get fresh feedback about the issues and parties.
All committees will have 50 per cent office-bearers, who will be less than 50 years age. The party will make mandal committees on every 20 booths, and each block will be having five to ten mandal committees.
On the ‘one family one ticket’ demand, only those who have worked for five years in the party will be given priority. However, the Congress will not discuss the issue of party presidentship as the process is on for the elections.
These groups will conclude their discussion in two days and produce a draft resolution to be adopted by the Congress Working Committee (CWC). Sonia Gandhi will speak on Sunday, the concluding day and Rahul will be second last speaker.
The Congress has said that Udaipur will be a new milestone of “hope, aspiration and change as India is enduring a painful and vicious assault on its democracy, economy and societal harmony”.
With inputs from agencies