Cong's 3-day brainstorming in Udaipur from Friday for new roadmap
Udaipur: Facing the daunting task of revamping the party after a series of poll reverses, over 400 Congress leaders will go into a huddle at its 'Chintan Shivir' starting here on Friday focusing on time-bound party restructuring, finding ways to combat politics of polarisation and getting battle-ready for upcoming electoral challenges.
Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the 'Nav Sankalp Chintan Shivir' is also aimed at deliberating on challenges facing the country such as "freefall of the economy", increasing inequality of wealth, price rise of essential commodities, "deep-rooted conspiracy" to hand over farming sector to a select group of private corporates, "attack on India's territorial integrity by China, "attack" on rights of Dalits, SCs/STs, minorities and attempts to divide by using Hindu-Muslim rhetoric.
"As India is plagued by the painful lines of division and hatred, it is obligatory on the Indian National Congress to defend the ethos of the Indian nation and find lasting solutions for peaceful co-existence," Surjewala said at a media briefing in Delhi on Thursday.
"We know that India expects us to review our organisational dexterity, capacity, capability, but also to adapt ourselves to the current situation and challenges," he said.
Surjewala alleged that the "bulldozer of bigotry", superstition, sectarianism, fanaticism, injustice and intolerance "heaped upon the nation" by the BJP government has to a large extent trampled upon India's march ahead.
The Congress has chosen six subjects and constituted groups to examine and submit their primary reports on actionables for the same, he said.
These groups are political, social justice and empowerment, economy, Congress organisation, Kisan and Khet Mazdoor and Youth. These groups will present their first impressions for a conclusive discussion during the 'Chintan Shivir' (brainstorming session).
"The 430 invitees to the 'Chintan Shivir' will be divided amongst different groups and they shall discuss and deliberate over a period of three days, various facets and challenges, in order to lay down a roadmap. The conclusions shall be presented to the Congress president, and thereafter, to the Congress Working Committee (CWC), for final shape and approval," Surjewala said.
The roadmap will provide a way forward not only to the Congress to meet up with the current set of "reverses and challenges", but will also pave the way for a resilient, strong and inclusive nation, he said.
Rising to the aspirations of the nation, the Congress, will introspect, contemplate and reflect upon the way forward and new milestones to be traversed in the session, he said.
In a bid to overcome internal challenges and electoral setbacks, the Congress' three-day conclave will focus on time-bound party restructuring for strengthening the organisation and evolving a strategy for future alliances.
Sending out a clear message to critics within the organisation, Congress president Sonia Gandhi at a CWC meeting earlier this week cautioned ahead of the session that self-criticism is needed in party forums but it should not be done to erode self-confidence and morale, as she asserted that it is time "to repay our debt to the party".
Gandhi had also warned against 'Chintan Shivir' becoming a ritual and asserted that she was determined that it should herald a restructured organisation to meet the many ideological, electoral and managerial tasks it confronts.
She has sought the cooperation of all leaders in sending across the message of unity, cohesion and commitment to ensure the party's accelerated revival, while underlining that "there are no magic wands".
The issue of leadership in the Congress is not likely to be discussed at the Udaipur conclave, party sources said, even as several leaders at the shivir are likely to rake up the issue of Rahul Gandhi taking over the party leadership.
"The leadership issue will not be on the table," a leader said.
At a press conference after the CWC meet, Congress leaders Jairam Ramesh and Randeep Surjewala had said the aim of the shivir is to prepare a new action plan and roadmap to get the party battle-ready for the 2024 Lok Sabha and upcoming assembly elections.
"It is not a destination, it is the beginning of a long journey. It is a milestone. After each of the 'Chintan Shivirs', the organisation has undergone transformation, this is a transformation of unprecedented magnitude," Ramesh had said.
He had said there are serious challenges before the country, and the Congress and the people expect the party to play a role. "The fact that we are holding the shivir is in itself a message that the Congress president means business."
Top Congress leaders will come out with solutions and clear the party's stance on key issues including polarisation, Centre-state ties, forming of alliances and attempts at bringing in "uniformity", especially in the Northeast, that are confronting the country and the party, Congress sources said.
Unlike in the past, when 'Chintan Shivirs' did not set any set timelines, the Udaipur declaration will state time-bound initiation and accomplishment of structural changes in the organisation at all levels - national, state, district and block levels.
"We have to make changes which are meaningful and not merely cosmetic" in order to revamp the party," a senior leader said ahead of the session. He said the decisions will be "action-oriented" and will not be the party's manifesto.
These structural changes will be discussed and implemented within the set timelines, the leader said, adding that the party's agitational programme and steps for public contact ahead of elections would also be finalised.
The conclave will begin with introductory remarks of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on May 13 and a valedictory address by Rahul Gandhi on May 15.
The shivir will begin Friday afternoon following which over 400 delegates will discuss subject-specific issues across six groups.
These discussions will continue on the first and second day and the conclusions will be recorded in the form of a declaration, a draft of which will be discussed at the CWC meeting to be held there on the last day.
Rahul Gandhi and several other leaders would reach Udaipur by train in an overnight journey, while Sonia Gandhi would reach Udaipur on May 13 by air.