In an effort to rejuvenate its prospects in the state, a decimated Congress will now attempt providing an alternative form of government along with its confrontationalist strategy of holding protest rallies. In a first of its kind, different departments of the party have come together to conduct a detailed survey of schools post the merger announced by the state government.
The Scheduled Caste department along with the minority deparment and the Pradesh Congress Committee will go to 81 schools in Amber block of Jaipur district to compile a report card of each school and the fate of its marginalized children following the state government’s merger that led to closure of over 17,000 schools. One case study by the party in Banjaron ki Dhani has already thrown up startling revelations encouraging the party to take up the survey first in the Amber block and eventually in the state, if need be, say party insiders.
The Vasundhara Raje government had announced that schools with less than 30 students would be merged to ensure equitable pupil-teacher ratio and rationalize infrastructure in schools across the state. The merger had led to closure of over 17,000 schools but following protests from pressure groups and activists, Raje had said that schools with more than 30 students, shut down as part of the merger, will be reopened. However no such move has been made so far.
“Over 17,000 schools have been closed all over the state by the government in a completely arbitrary manner leading to widespread student dropout. Quality public education is an issue which cuts across caste divides and the SC department with PCC support will take up this issue with the seriousness it deserves. We will collaborate with the Scheduled Tribe, OBC and Minorities departments along with frontal organizations,” said Ruchi Gupta, state in-charge of the All India Congress Committee’s SC department.
The Congress party, which has seen encouraging trends in the increase of its voteshare since the last poll drubbing, has been trying a multi-pronged approach for its revival. “While our voteshare has increased from 30 percent in the parliamentary polls to 45 percent in the panchayat polls, the BJP has slipped from 56 percent to 47 percent of the voteshare over the past eight months. The difference between us is only of 2 percent now and that is an encouraging trend for us. We are working towards making the party more proactive and follow constructive politics rather than simple snubbing the ruling party’s decisions. We want to provide an alternative form of government and I think that is the way forward,” PCC chief Sachin Pilot told the Indian Express.
Rajasthan is the first state to have appointed divisional convenors in the SC department, a brain-child of party vice-president Rahul Gandhi. Even as the department looks at reviving its voteshare in the rural pockets, its urban strategy of working on issues such as education is expected to help the party regain its footing in the cities.
Pilot’s active monitoring of all the districts, bringing in the top leadership including party president Sonia Gandhi to reach out to distressed farmers, has kept the BJP government on its toes. Since Sonia’s visit to Kota, top central leaders including Agriculture Minister Mohanbhai Kundariya and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to tour the region.
Shaking up the organizational structure, the party has decided to drop members who absent from meetings of the committee three times in a row. It has been reported that senior committee members have been habitual absentees from these meetings and the exercise is likely to shed deadwood. As for the younger members, a merit and reward format is being worked out to encourage those actively involved in reviving the party.
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