Congress outlines blueprint for party revamp

 Struggling to recover from its worst electoral debacle, Congress leadership has outlined a blueprint to revamp the party and redraft its socio-economic policies amid reports that Rahul Gandhi may be elevated to the position of party President.

New Delhi: Struggling to recover from its worst electoral debacle, Congress leadership has outlined a blueprint to revamp the party and redraft its socio-economic policies amid reports that Rahul Gandhi may be elevated to the position of party President.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi has written a letter to PCC chiefs asking them to hold a series of consultative meets with party leaders to elicit views and coalesce a consensus on three core issues.

The core issues she has flagged are Congress' ideology, organisational reforms required to progressively devolve power and increased accoutability of leaders at all levels and the way forward for the party with a view to winning the confidence of all sections of society and expand its base.

Gandhi has sought inputs from the party's state units to finalise the "agenda for action" and the way forward for its ratification in the next AICC session likely in March.

The party has also circulated an 11-page note containing suggestions culled from a series of discussions held by party Vice President Rahul Gandhi with around 450 leaders on ways and means to revive the party which is down in the dumps in the wake of BJP's surge under Narendra Modi in Lok Sabha elections last year.

With the youth predominantly voting for BJP in the Lok Sabha polls which saw Congress' tally of seats plummeting to a record low of 44, the note says "we cannot ignore the aspirations of the sections of the urban middle class which cuts across castes and religions."

It said the party must accordingly take up all progressive issues including "but not limited to secularism or welfare for the poor". "We have to redraft our socio-economic policies keeping their aspriations in view".

Dwelling on the current political scenario, the note said "at a time when the ruling dispensation at the Centre is thriving on divisive politics, the Congress-led counter narrative is needed for the unity, integrity and security of the country.

Socialism, inclusive democracy, secularism, equality and social justice are articles of faith for the Congress party.

Devolution of powers and empowerment of the common man is central to the Congress party.

Above all, an uncompromising pursuit of harmony among all sections of the society in the country, as enshrined in the Constitution of India, shall distinguish the Congress party from other parties."

The note was released by the AICC at a time when a meeting of the party's apex decision making body---Congress Working Committee is scheduled on January 13 to discuss the current political situation.

In the note, the party has broadly spoken of its views on distribution of power, party-government interface, institutionalising Congress Committees as deliberative platforms, accountability and discipline.

Mass contact and social media outreach, political positioning on issues and the party's revival in states are some of the issues touched upon in the note.

State units have been asked to send their feedback on core non-negotiable elements of the party's ideology, its core constituencies, issues to mobilise the party's core constitutencies, mechanisms to ensure involvement of party workers in manifesto preparation and implementation.

Feedback has also been sought on issues like distribution of power between the party and the government, actions to be taken against party leaders for poor distribution of tickets, growth path for party workers, potential nationwide campaign of the party for the next year and measures to inspire confidence in youth.

The note says that the Congress President and the Vice President will have quarterly meetings with all party Chief Ministers, General Secretaries, PCC Chiefs and CLP leaders and review performance.

It has asked the party leaders to deliberate on: how should the Congress Party communicate its ideology to its cadre and people at large.

Which communities and groups should constitute the Congress Party base in your state.

And what are the issues which should be taken up by the Congress Party to mobilize them.

Gandhi also wanted the state chiefs to give feedback on how should Congress communicate its stand on these issues in such a way that its stand reflects the party's core values.

The note promises to progressively decentralise ticket distribution and do it one year in advance.

It has also stressed that party leaders should be held accountable for the performance of candidates recommended by them at the time of ticket distributions.

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