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Congress ‘reaching consensus’ on 5-yr term for posts, ‘1 family 1 ticket’. Gandhis a grey area

On first day of Chintan Shivir in Udaipur, Congress floats two key proposals for ‘organisational transformation’, but there are hints Gandhis will be exempt.

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Udaipur: On the first day of its mega brainstorming session, ‘Nav Sankalp Chintan Shivir‘, the Congress has come up with two key organisational proposals — five-year terms for party posts, and a one-family-one-ticket rule.

Addressing the press in Udaipur, Congress general-secretary and head of the ‘organisation’ panel of the Chintan Shivir, Ajay Maken, said the party was reaching a “consensus” on these issues.

However, he seemed unsure about how these proposed policies might apply to the Gandhi family, which is arguably the party’s biggest organisational question.

More than 450 members of the Congress are currently attending the three-day Chintan Shivir, which is intended to help the party come up with ways to revive and reorganise itself in the wake of successive electoral routs, most recently in the assembly elections to five states earlier this year.

Prior to the meet, Congress president Sonia Gandhi formed six panels — political, organisation, economy, social justice, farmers and agriculture, and youth empowerment — in order to prepare proposals for discussion and set the agenda.

Also Read: Congress begins ‘Chintan Shivir’ today with one goal: Not to let India become ‘Congress mukt’

‘Let us see’, and a loophole for Gandhis

Maken said “no person should continue in a post for more than five years”, and if they must, there should be “a cooling-off period of three years”.

However, when questioned by ThePrint about whether this policy would also apply to the post of the party president, currently held by Sonia Gandhi, who took over in an interim capacity in 2019, Maken was ambiguous. “Let us see,” he said.

With regard to the one-family-one-ticket rule, too, there seemed to be a caveat to exempt the Gandhis.

“[More than one member of the family contesting polls] should only be accepted if the person of the family is working for the party independently for five years. It should not be such that there’s an older leader and their children or relatives suddenly come and contest elections,” Maken said.

This rider effectively insulates the Gandhis from the proposed rule. All three, Sonia and her children Rahul and Priyanka, have worked for five years and more in the party without holding an elected post.

In-house wings for surveys and leaders’ assessments

Maken also announced that the Congress was deliberating upon two separate departments: One to hold surveys for the party “not just during elections”, and another to assess leaders on their work.

“We often, only during elections, outsource our survey work and other things to agencies. We discussed this and there is unanimity that the Congress party should have its own public insight unit. The party should have its own internal department which conducts surveys, not just during elections but all year round,” Maken said.

He also conceded an oft-criticised aspect of the Congress’ functioning. “It is often said about the Congress party that those who work are not rewarded and those who don’t work well are not punished. To create the proper metrics for this, we are thinking of instituting a separate assessment wing so that those who are working well are promoted and the office-bearers who are not working can be removed,” Maken said.

He added that the party was also looking into issues of “discipline” and how it could be strengthened and enforced across party ranks.

That apart, Maken also announced that from the block level to the apex Congress Working Committee (CWC), a proposal was being considered for a “50-under-50” formula. That is, 50 percent of all posts in these committees will be reserved for “youth” under the age of 50.

Another important proposal announced was to introduce a “mandal” level of organisation between the booth and the block level — 15 to 20 polling booths would constitute one mandal and three to five mandals would constitute one block, he explained.

“The suggestions of our panel, once adopted in the party’s Udaipur Declaration (to be made at the end of the three-day event), will bring about major transformations within the party,” Maken said.

(Edited by Asavari Singh)

Also Read: Dear Rahul and Priyanka, you had your chance, you blew it. Let someone else do the job


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