A high-level panel chaired by him to decide the party’s stance on key issues, formation of cells to reach out to professionals and traders on the lines of the BJP — these are among the plans unveiled by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi to streamline and broadbase the party. The plans were discussed during the Congress Working Committee on Tuesday. The CWC also approved the schedule for internal elections, which are expected to culminate in the election of Rahul as Congress president by October 15.
The last meeting of the CWC in November had asked Rahul to take over as Congress president. Since the CWC agenda on Tuesday was to approve the poll schedule, sources said there was no demand for his immediate takeover at the meeting. Sources said the assessment of the committee was that Rahul would take over as Congress chief through the organisational poll process.
Rahul told the CWC that he was in the process of making changes in state units that are not active. He also said that a sub-group headed by him would be set up to formulate the party line on key issues. The move, party leaders felt, was an attempt to bring clarity on the party’s stance on key issues so that leaders do not speak in different voices.
For instance, the Congress’s line on the Centre’s notification on animal trade is not clear. While the party has often stressed that the government cannot dictate eating habits of people, it has not criticised or backed the notification, though its Kerala unit has been attacking the Centre. Regarding the use of a human shield in Kashmir, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh applauded the Army
Major for the move but leaders such as Digvijaya Singh called it unethical. It was also decided that the CWC would meet once in two months. Sources said some members of the committee felt the high-level body should meet more frequently to discuss key issues.
It was suggested that the party form cells or departments for traders. According to sources, Rahul said that two new party cells — for traders and professionals — would be formed soon. The party had recently announced formation of the Overseas Congress on the lines of the BJP. There are also plans to create new regional bodies for the Congress. Regarding organisational challenges, Congress president Sonia Gandhi said the recent Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand held “vital lessons” for the party.
Referring to the fact that the party could not form governments in Manipur and Goa despite emerging as the single largest party, she said, “We failed to convert our winning numbers into forming a government. This outcome reminds us that the BJP will use their enormous resources and muscle power to steal mandates from us, just as they did in Arunachal and earlier in Uttarakhand. We cannot let this happen again.”