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‘Bharat Jodo’ plans, focus on public connect: Targets for Congress as ‘Chintan Shivir’ ends

The Congress announced a nation-wide yatra from 2 October, while President Sonia Gandhi drew up a new 'advisory group' for herself from the CWC.

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Udaipur: As the three-day mega brainstorming session of the Congress concluded Sunday, the party adopted the ‘Nav Sankalp Declaration’ which announced the long-awaited organisational changes in the grand-old party and plans for nationwide mass agitations in an attempt to ‘reconnect’ with the masses.

The Congress’ ‘Chintan Shivir’, held in Rajasthan’s Udaipur, concluded with speeches by Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi and party leader Rahul Gandhi.

In his speech, Rahul admitted that Congress had lost its “connect” with the people of India and stressed the need to look externally and not internally.

“There is a complaint with our party that all our discussions are focused internally. Who is getting what post? All our focus is internal and in today’s day and time, that will not work,” the Congress leader said.

To establish a connection with the public, the party announced two mass agitations that will begin over the next few months. It also fashioned a new slogan for these yatras – Bharat Jodo – drawing inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi’s famous ‘Bharat Chodo’ slogan.

ThePrint reported Sunday that the party, in its run up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, was looking to “do what Gandhi would do”.

Politically, however, an ambiguity persisted over the Congress’ stance vis-à-vis non-BJP regional parties and alliances. Although Gandhi in his speech said that regional parties have “no ideology”, the declaration said that Congress is open to alliances with “like-minded” parties.

‘Regional parties have no ideology, built on caste’

Gandhi also said that regional parties could not beat the BJP because the war with the ruling party was an “ideological one” and regional parties, he said, “have no ideology”.

“BJP will talk about Congress, but BJP will not talk about regional parties because they know that while they (regional parties) have a place, they can’t beat BJP. This is because they don’t have an ideology. They have different approaches. We have a centralised approach,” he said.

“Regional parties are based on caste. But there is no caste, religion or person in this country who can say that the Congress party has closed its door to them. Regional parties are for some people. They’re not for everyone. This (Congress) is the only party that is,” he added.

The former Congress chief also conceded that the party had lost its “connect” with the people and therefore needed to “completely reform” its communication system.

“Communication is where our opponents outdo us. They have more money than us and they are better at communication. There is a need to completely reform our communication systems and use new technology to connect with the youth,” he underlined.

Finally, stating that Congress is his “family”, Gandhi asked senior leaders to not get “depressed” and told workers and leaders to not fear what is a “battle for the country”.

“I’m not scared of these forces. I’ve never done any sort of corruption in my life, not taken one rupee. I have no fear. Maine Bharat mata se ek paisa nahi liya hai. Aur main sacchai bolne se nahi darta hoon,” he claimed.


Also read: ‘Congress above personal ambition’: Sonia Gandhi says efforts of resurgence can’t be delayed


‘Bharat Jodo’ yatra from Kashmir To Kanyakumari

Taking the stage after the declaration was adopted, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi announced that the party would be launching a ‘Bharat Jodo’ yatra from Kashmir to Kanyakumari on 2 October, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

In a jovial mood, Sonia said that the party would have to find a way for “seniors like me” to participate.

She also declared that from 15 August, the party would also launch a ‘Rozgaar Do‘ yatra to demand jobs and security for the country’s youth.

“All of us – young and old – will participate in it (the yatra). We will have to find ways to accommodate seniors like me on how to participate easily in the yatra without having to run out of breath and God knows what else!” she said.

Announcing the key declarations made at Udaipur, the party’s interim chief said that she had decided to draw up an “advisory group” from the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the highest decision-making body of the party.

The group will meet regularly under her chairpersonship to “discuss and deliberate upon political issues and challenges” before the party.

She said that the new group, whose members are yet to be announced, was not a collective decision-making body but advisory in nature.

The Congress president also announced a “compact task force” that will be set up to drive internal reforms that were discussed in Udaipur. Furthermore, it was announced that phase 2 of the Congress’ Jan Jagran Abhiyan will also take off starting 15 June.

New departments

Reading out the declaration, Congress’ general secretary Ajay Maken announced the formation of three new departments within the organisation.

The first would be a Public Insight Committee which will conduct year-round surveys on various issues and provide feedback from the public to the leadership.

The second is a National Training Institute through which Congress workers and leaders would be trained on ideology, thought and rules of the party.

The third department to be formed would be an Election Management Committee that will handle all things related to elections.

Apart from these three sections, a separate assessment unit will be set up under the General Secretary (Organisation) to assess the working of organisational position holders and look after their promotion or removal.

‘One family, one ticket’ & youth push

In another major reform, the party announced policies to give a massive push to youth. The declaration stated a ‘50-under-50’ formula under which 50 percent of all party posts, from the block level to the AICC, will be reserved for those under 50 years of age.

Moreover, the party said that there must be an attempt to have 50 percent of the cabinet composed of people under 50 years in the states where it’s running governments.

Additionally, for all elections starting from the 2024 Lok Sabha election, the party will be giving 50 percent tickets to those under 50.

A policy of ‘one-family-one-ticket’ was also formulated allowing only one member of a family to get a ticket in an election. However, it comes with an exception that if a second member of the family has “independently” worked for 5 years or more, they may be given a ticket.


Also read: 30 years after liberalisation, Congress calls for economic reset at ‘Chintan Shivir’


 

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