Redrafting its “socio-economic policies” to reach out to youth from the urban middle class and looking beyond “secularism” and “welfare of the poor” will be key components of the revival plan prepared by the Congress.
A background paper for discussion that Congress chief Sonia Gandhi has sent to state party presidents asserts that “socialism” and “secularism” are “articles of faith” for the party. However, it also signals that its priorities will have to change to address present-day challenges.
While the note says an “uncompromising pursuit of harmony among all sections of the society” should be the Congress hallmark, it also suggests that the party should espouse causes other than secularism and poverty.
“While the Congress party has historically been a broad national coalition, especially of SCs/STs/OBCs and minorities, the party has broad-based appeal which cuts across caste and religion. Accordingly, the party must take up all progressive issues, including but not limited to secularism or welfare for the poor,” says the note.
Realising that the BJP had managed to capture the imagination of the youth, particularly in urban areas, it admits the Congress can no ignore longer the aspirations of the urban middle class youth, which cuts across caste and religion. “We have to redraft our socio-economic policies keeping their aspirations in view,” says the note, which will form the basis for discussions at all levels and will be the blueprint for the Congress revival.
The Congress has been struggling to deal with the aggressive brand of Hindutva being pursued by the RSS and its affiliated bodies without being labelled anti-Hindu. Consequently, the note asks the states for suggestions on how should the party communicate its ideology to the cadre and the people at large. Virtually admitting that there is lack of ideological clarity among its rank and file, the note also seeks a discussion on “the core non-negotiable elements of the party’s ideology”.
The feedback from the states would form the basis for the draft agenda for action and resolutions to be adopted at the AICC session expected to be held in March or April. The note seeks suggestions on devolution of powers, organisational reforms and internal elections, besides fixing of accountability and ensuring discipline in the party. It makes it clear that the party must steer the government when in power and not vice-versa.
The high command has made it clear that it plans to ensure accountability of leadership at all levels. One topic of discussion, hence, is on the need for defining the roles and responsibilities of key functionaries including general secretaries and PCC presidents. Besides, it makes it clear that the party high command would monitor the performance of its governments.
“The Congress president/vice president will have quarterly meetings with all Congress party CMs, general secretaries, PCC presidents, CLP leaders and other state leaders to provide guidance and review performance,” the note says.