In its three-day Chintan Shivir, the Congress has tried to deal with all issues on which it has faced flak from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Interestingly, while the deal with Prashant Kishor fell through, many of his suggestions have found their way into the resolutions or the Udaipur declaration.
YOUTH FOCUS, ‘ONE FAMILY ONE TICKET’ WITH RIDERS
First, to deal with the crumbling organisation. In reference to demands of the G23 and also other party workers, the party has set a timeline to fill all vacancies within a maximum of 120 days. In fact, many members of G23 had made the point that vacancies pending for long meant that no work was happening on ground.
The Congress calculated that in 2024, there would be an increase of around 10% in first-time voters. Despite Rahul Gandhi’s debut in active politics through the Youth Congress, youngsters have preferred to vote for the BJP and Modi factor. The Congress hopes to tap this group by projecting the fact that there are no or few jobs. But to ensure a young looking Congress, it has been decided to reserve 50% posts to those below 50 years of age.
To counter the dynastic tag, it has also approved ‘One Family One Ticket’. But as New18.com reported earlier, it comes with an exception. If any member of the same family has worked for the party for at least five years, they can be given a ticket. This, the party hopes will quell any potential rebellion during ticket distribution and also allow say a Priyanka Vadra to contest even if Rahul Gandhi gets a ticket in 2024.
‘ONE MAN ONE POST’, VOTER CONNECT, ACCOUNTABILITY
Two, important decisions have been made with an eye to cut nepotism — nobody can hold a post for more than five years and ‘One Man One Post’. A grudge of many party workers is seniors sit pretty on their post for years, and they get no chance. The Congress hopes to address this problem.
In all the disastrous poll results, a common complaint has been that those who were in charge did not face the axe. The party hopes to change this by setting up a national accountability system, wherein those responsible will face the axe and those who delivered will be rewarded. The Congress has also set up a mass contact schedule, where all party leaders, including the Gandhis, will travel from Kashmir to Kanyakumari to connect with people.
A confused policy on key issues, which gives an edge to the BJP and many regional parties, has been addressed only in a limited manner. While it criticised abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir, what it called a result of divisive nature of the BJP and its parent Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the Congress has lost out on the nationalism narrative. It may be too late to recover lost ground now, with the Lok Sabha polls barely two years away.
Clearly, the Congress is aware of the loss of its vote bank among Adivasis, Dalits and backwards. Setting up committees as envisaged by the Udaipur declaration may not be enough.
The Congress has also made a demand for caste census because it wants to reclaim lost territory.
Clearly, the manifesto for 2024 is almost ready. These will be the highlights.
But the upcoming state polls will be the litmus test. If the Congress loses here, the Udaipur resolution will be wiped away. The Congress has also lost ground to many regional parties such as the Aam Aadmi Party and Trinamool Congress. While Rahul Gandhi was dismissive by saying none of them can offer an alternative to the BJP and bring change in the country, his comments are likely to antagonise many allies and certainly puts the Congress plan to tie up with like-minded parties in a bind.
The Udaipur slogan is “Bharat jodo (Unite Bharat)”.
But the party has to cross the biggest hurdle now — the upcoming polls.