Will Congress bridge gap between rhetoric, action? – The Sunday Guardian

Will Congress bridge gap between rhetoric, action? – The Sunday Guardian

Congress Interim President Sonia Gandhi with party leaders Rahul Gandhi, K.C. Venugopal and other dignitaries during a meeting with AICC General Secretaries, In-charges, PCC Presidents and CLPs on the second day of the party’s Nav Sankalp Chintan Shivir, in Udaipur on Saturday. ANI
 
New Delhi: Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi in her opening remarks at the brainstorming session here may have come heavily down on the Modi government for price-rise, unemployment and communal violence, but the grand old party looked clueless in terms of countering the polarization in the country. On the first day of the three-day Nav Sankalp Shivir on Friday, the Congress came up with some resolutions to corner the central government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the issues like price rise and unemployment but could not suggest any substantial steps to counter what the party calls politics of communal polarization.
Undeniably, several states including Rajasthan have been witnessing incidents of communal violence since UP polls. Issues like Hanuman Chalisa recitation, Bulldozer, Qutub Minar, Gyanwapi Masjid, Taj Mahal etc. have set a communal tone in the country. But the Congress has been unable to be vocal on these issues.
Amid the massive political heat and also the hot weather condition, the grand old party at a five-star hotel in the city of lakes is brainstorming to find out ways to counter communal politics. The committees formed to discuss subjects separately discussed growing communal violence and steps to be taken against the Modi government. The leaders also discussed the ways to salvage the party from the worst ever crisis. Mobiles were not allowed inside the venue so as to avoid any information leak. Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi was attending meetings of all the groups one by one. He was urged to accept the party’s president post by the leaders in a couple of committees. AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was also active. According to sources, Rahul Gandhi seems ready to accept the party’s president post again, and the election for the post is due on August-September.
Sonia Gandhi remained busy discussing issues with some leaders in her room. As an organizer of the session, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot was taking care of arrangements. The youth delegates along with senior leaders got themselves photographed. Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Gehlot also did not disappoint anyone who wanted to be photographed with them.
The active participation by old leaders was a message about the unity in the party. Most of the leaders of the disgruntled group were seen attending discussions. But the biggest question is whether the party will be able to implement whatever came out after discussions, given the past instances where the Congress could not execute decisions. So, it won’t be easy for the leadership to implement the decisions that are taken after brainstorming sessions. This time round, the party has removed the word “Chintan” and named the strategic meet as “Nav Sankalp Shivir”. But the question is whether the party can execute what comes up as “Nav Sankalp” (new resolutions).
If the party seriously implements its new resolutions, then AICC will see the biggest change first. Several senior leaders will have to be relieved of the AICC post, which is a step not apparently possible in the present situation. The party won’t also be able to give half of the internal position to the youth. The Congress has been unable to give positions to women, youth and backward communities in significant proportions. Even 20 per cent reservation for women could not be implemented in the party which spoke about giving 33 per cent quota to women. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra somehow gave 40 per cent tickets to women in UP polls but the party lost miserably. Moreover, the Congress always underlined the need for greater representation to youth ever since Rahul Gandhi joined active politics in 2004. But what happened was that the party saw the old guard versus youth fight.
Now if one comes to the issue of five years’ limit for the posts, it is also full of many complications and complexities. If the five-year formula is adopted then AICC general secretary KC Venugopal, who is close to Rahul Gandhi, will have to quit the post. Moreover, Mukul Wasnik, who holds the record of being longest serving general secretary, will also go. Several others will also be shown the door then.
Similarly, the one-family-one-ticket formula is about giving just a message only, as the rule if adopted may come with some riders. Family members of most of the leaders normally take membership of the party early and remain active in politics for years. So they will be getting posts on the grounds of being active in politics for several years.
Meanwhile, discussions focused on carrying out organizational changes from booth to top levels. Reservation for women, minorities and backward classes in organisation was also a key talking point. The points and suggestions were apparently quite good for the organisation. But what remains to be seen is how many of these suggestions get approval of CWC on Sunday.
Rajasthan CM Ashko Gehlot, PCC chief Govind Dotasra, RTDC Chairman Dharmendra Singh Rathore, Public Grievance and Redressal Committee Chairman Pukhraj Parashar are making all possible efforts to ensure that the Shivir sessions are carried out smoothly. Entire Udaipur is covered with posters and hoardings showing pictures of Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. Rahul Gandhi reached here by train, while Sonia Gandhi came by air. Leaders participating in discussion of the political affairs committee under Mallikarjuna Kharge urged Rahul Gandhi to take over the charge of the party once again.
In her inaugural address, Sonia Gandhi targeted the Modi government over several issues, but she also gave instructions to the party leaders. Gehlot accused the BJP and Sangh of spreading communal violence. Price rise, unemployment, farmers problems, etc. are some of the issues the Congress is focusing on. However, all eyes are set on what the brainstorming comes up with to counter communal politics.
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