When seven of the 23 senior Congress politicians who referred to as for a sweeping organisational overhaul in August met celebration president Sonia Gandhi on Saturday, they supplied a number of ideas to revive the 135-year-old political celebration. Key among the many ideas was the function of the president who, they stated, ought to be hands-on and lead from the entrance.
Termed an icebreaker, this was the primary in-person interplay amid the Covid-19 pandemic between representatives of the group of dissenters and Sonia Gandhi and different celebration leaders. Hindustan Occasions spoke to a number of of the 20-odd attendees on the form of modifications the group wished within the celebration.
Particular person members of the group who spoke by flip put ahead their views as did and another attendees equivalent to former finance minister P Chidambaram. Lots of the modifications instructed within the All India Congress Committee (AICC) had been put ahead by Chidambaram, who didn’t reply to queries from HT. “There ought to be individuals who sit within the workplace each day and be obtainable for conferences and never the form of ghost city that it (Congress headquarters) is now,’’ one of many group of seven dissenters who attended the assembly stated on situation of anonymity. “We wished a President to work inside a revived intra-party establishment.’’
Uncertainty over management has weakened the Congress and demoralised its staff, the controversial letter written by 23 leaders to Sonia Gandhi on August 7 stated, warning the excessive command of the erosion of its help base with the desertion of functionaries throughout states, and calling for an overhaul of the celebration organisation and a “seen” management.
The letter additionally sought introspection of the explanations behind the celebration’s “regular decline,” and appealed to the Congress management to take the initiative for the formation of a “nationwide coalition of democratic and secular forces” in opposition to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Get together (BJP).
Of the 23 signatories to the letter, chief of the Opposition within the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, his deputy within the Home Anand Sharma, former union ministers Manish Tewari and Shashi Tharoor, former chief ministers of Haryana and Maharashtra Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Prithviraj Chavan and the top of the celebration’s authorized division Vivek Tankha attended the assembly.
The establishments that the letter writers referred to at Saturday’s celebration assembly had been each current ones and a few new ones they need created. As an example, they instructed the appointment of 1, two or much more working presidents who would assist the celebration president perform extra successfully.
This proposal has achieved the rounds for years now particularly across the time Rahul Gandhi was to take over as celebration president, which he did in December 2017, solely to surrender the publish in Might 2019 after the Congress’s debacle within the common elections, paving the bottom for Sonia Gandhi to grow to be interim celebration chief. The idea of a working president has been revived with better vigour since then.
The one precedent of a working president within the Congress dates again to the Rajiv Gadhi period. As a result of he was Prime Minister and likewise the Congress president, he selected veteran Kamalapati Tripathi as working president and Arjun Singh turned celebration vice-president.
“The concept is to have a extra consultative administration of the celebration,’’ stated one other key chief. To this finish, the letter writers additionally instructed that the Pradesh Congress Committee chiefs be empowered to do extra. They identified that in the mean time, PCC chiefs had been reporting to common secretaries who had been “de facto kings.’
The letter writers, particularly Ghulam Nabi Azad, chief of the opposition within the Rajya Sabha, additionally proposed restarting the Parliamentary board of the Get together. It is a physique that also finds point out in Article 25 , clause A of the celebration’s structure. The clause says the physique can be headed by the celebration president and may have 9 different members, considered one of whom would be the chief of the celebration in Parliament.
“Individuals confuse the perform of the board. The structure says that its objective is to control and coordinate the parliamentary actions of Congress’ legislatures,’’ stated the second chief cited above. The August letter writers instructed that the Parliamentary board meet repeatedly in order that it may take a coordinated view of present points.
When this was instructed, nonetheless, Sonia Gandhi identified that the physique had been scrapped by PV Narasimha Rao when he was celebration president in 1992.
Get together insiders stated Rao’s was a nuanced transfer.”`Throughout the plenary session at Tirupati (in 1992), Arjun Singh, Jitendra Prasad and others shaped a syndicate and gained elections to the Congress Working Committee (CWC). Since they might now have a say over the members of the Parliamentary board, Rao stated that there wasn’t a degree in having a board . A day later, they had been made to difficulty a decision that empowered the Congress president (Rao) to reconstitute all our bodies,” one old-time Congressman stated.
Lastly, a suggestion was made to carry elections to decide on members of the CWC, the very best resolution making physique of the celebration. The final time elections passed off to the CWC had been beneath Sitaram Kesri in 1997. Within the final plenary session of the Congress, Ghulam Nabi Azad moved a decision that junked elections to the CWC in favour of members’ nomination by the Congress president. The CWC’s time period expires in 2022 and the letter writers need the a switch-back to the system of elections by then.
One of many modifications instructed at Saturday’s assembly was instantly accepted. Former minister Manish Tiwari proposed “chintan shivirs”, or introspection conferences; its acceptance was introduced by the Congress’s Pawan Bansal.
Tiwari didn’t reply to queries from HT.
Now the letter writers are ready for the celebration to maneuver on their different ideas. They embrace one for the celebration to articulate a transparent ideological view. As an example, HIndustan Occasions learns, Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor stated he didn’t agree with the smooth Hindutva method being espoused by some celebration members within the north.
A number of the August letter writers are optimistic that the management will settle for their proposals for reform, however others are sceptical. “They’re simply going by the motions. Why else would they’ve a press convention a day earlier than to announce 99% need Rahul Gandhi to return,’’ stated considered one of signatories, requesting anonymity.
One other signatory stated he and different signatories didn’t have any downside with Rahul Gandhi changing into the Congress president by an election course of. He warned that he and the others would resist any transfer to “impose a proxy” on the celebration.
There are others among the many dissenters who really feel that the Gandhis did make an try at rapprochement .