New Delhi: With its mega walkathon completing nearly 90 days, the Congress has announced a follow-up campaign to its Bharat Jodo Yatra ahead of next year’s assembly elections in states such as Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh where the party is a key player.
On Sunday, Congress leaders discussed the new two-month-long campaign, ‘Haath Se Haath Jodo Abhiyaan’ (join hands campaign), at the first meeting of the party’s freshly-minted Steering Committee which was set up as a substitute to the CWC after Mallikarjun Kharge was elected party president in October. A new CWC will be constituted once Kharge’s presidency is ratified at the three-day plenary session to be held in Raipur in the second half of February next year.
Addressing a press conference after the meeting, Congress general secretaries Jairam Ramesh and K.C. Venugopal announced that the party will launch the “Haath Se Haath Jodo Abhiyaan” on 26 January 2023. This campaign will include rallies at the block, gram panchayat, district and state level.
Additionally, the party will release a ‘Mahila (women) Manifesto’ for each state and organise ‘Mahila Marches’ led by general secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, in state capitals across the country.
“As per this campaign, there will be block-level padyatras (foot march) that will cover all booths and gram panchayats in the country. Party will hand over (to the people) a letter from Rahul Gandhi talking about the core message of this yatra. We will also distribute a chargesheet against the Modi government along with the letter,” said Venugopal, adding that the party will also organise bike rallies to connect with younger voters.
The Congress’s Bharat Jodo Yatra, which began on 6 September, is a roughly 3,500 km-long walkathon from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. The yatra is expected to end around 26 January in Srinagar. While Congress MP Rahul Gandhi is ostensibly leading the yatra, the MP from Wayanad maintains that he is “merely participating” and not playing the leading role. Gandhi and the party have also maintained that the yatra is not meant to achieve electoral gains but to enlist support in their fight against the ideology of the BJP-RSS.
Kharge draws line in the sand
In his opening address at the meeting Sunday, Kharge asserted that “organisational responsibility, from top to bottom” is the party’s biggest responsibility towards itself and towards the country. “If the Congress organisation is strong, accountable and stands up to the expectations of the people, only then can we win elections and serve the people,” he said.
The meeting of the 47-member Steering Committee was attended by 42 members, including Kharge. While Rahul Gandhi gave it a miss due to the Bharat Jodo Yatra and Priyanka Gandhi could not attend since she was travelling, former Congress president Sonia Gandhi took part in the meeting Sunday and was also felicitated before it began.
At the meeting, Kharge minced no words in conveying to the Steering Committee that those with organisational responsibilities need to step up.
“While there are many people in the party who are very responsible, there are others who are under the impression that their failure to fulfil their responsibilities will be overlooked. This is neither fair and nor will this be tolerated. Those who are unable to fulfil their responsibilities should make way for newer colleagues,” he told party colleagues Sunday.
Instructing the general secretaries and in-charges of various states to ensure that their responsibilities are duly fulfilled, Kharge told them: “Ask yourself conscientiously, are all general secretaries and in-charges of states and those with organisational responsibilities visiting their respective areas for at least 10 days a month? Have they gone to all districts and blocks and spoken to party leaders and workers? Have they tried to understand the problems in these areas?”
He then asked all those holding organisational posts to check on the formation and functioning of block committees and whether the party is working at par with ground realities in their respective areas.
All state in-charges were asked to present their plan for mass outreach programmes for the next 30-90 days. Kharge also sought details from them about their game plan for states going to polls between now and 2024.
Members of the Steering Committee were then directed to come up with a plan for organisational changes and mass outreach programmes in their respective areas over the next 15-30 days and to discuss these plans with Kharge personally. Steering Committee members should be involved in these discussions if required, Kharge told Congress leaders.
(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)