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Tuesday, Dec 06, 2022

Congress’s one person-one post Udaipur resolve set to face the Ashok Gehlot test

The Udaipur Declaration, at May Chintan Shivir, suggested a series of organisational reforms, including curbs on tickets for family members

Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi with party leaders Rahul Gandhi, Ashok Gehlot and others during the concluding session of party’s ‘Nav Sankalp Shivir’, in Udaipur. (PTI Photo)

The Congress presidential election will also put to test the Udaipur Declaration adopted by the party at its Chintan Shivir in May in the Rajasthan city. One of the “organisational reforms” to be implemented as per this declaration was the principle of one person, one post, and the Congress will be hard pressed to enforce this should Ashok Gehlot insist on staying on as Rajasthan Chief Minister even if he becomes party president, which he has dropped enough hints of doing.

Days to go for the election, an online petition surfaced in party circles asking candidates to undertake a public pledge to implement the Udaipur Declaration in its entirety if they won. Among those who promptly signed on the petition was Gehlot’s likely rival for the presidential post, Shashi Tharoor.

The one person-one post principle was part of a set of organisational reforms announced by the party in Udaipur to bring in young faces – those under 50 – into leadership positions. Another resolve was to fix accountability – the lack of which has been a major grouse for many leaders, including G-23 – and to streamline the communication apparatus of the party.

The Udaipur Chintan Shivir was held against the backdrop of increasing demands by G-23 leaders for radical organisational reforms in the wake of the party’s continuing electoral reverses. The shivir held at the picturesque location was aimed at reinvigorating the party. The decision to undertake a Kanyakumari to Kashmir Bharat Yatra – which Rahul is currently leading – too came out of the three-day conclave.

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One of the big-ticket organisational reforms announced at the meet was diluted within hours. While the initial discussion centred around having a one-family, one-ticket rule, a caveat later said the sons, daughters and other relatives of leaders who aspired for a ticket should have worked for the party for at least five years.

The Udaipur Declaration:

  • All the vacant positions at the Block, District, State and National level to be filled in the next 90 to 180 days, and accountability fixed FOR THIS. In order to make the organization more effective, apart from the Block Congress Committees, Mandal Congress Committees to be constituted as well.
  • Three new departments of the party will be created at the national level: a) Public Insight Department, responsible for gathering public feedback on issues and evaluating policies in a scientific manner, for inputs to the party leadership; b) a National Training Institute, to train party leaders and workers on policies, ideology and vision of the party, policies of the government, and other burning issues; c) AICC Election Management Department, to ensure preparedness well in advance for every election to achieve the desired results.
  • The General Secretary (Organisation) to assess the performance of office-bearers of the All India Congress Committee, Pradesh Congress Committees and District Congress Committees. This would help promote or remove office-bearers based on their performance.
  • Limiting the years a person could occupy a position to five years, so that new people could get an opportunity. They could return only after a three-year cooling period.
  • Ensure that 50 per cent office-bearers in Congress Working Committee, Pradesh Congress Committees, District Congress Committees, Block Congress Committees and Mandal Congress Committees are below the age of 50.
  • Each of these units must also reflect social reality, and ensure just and fair representation to Dalits, Adivasis, backward classes, minorities and women.
  • The principle of “one person, one post” should be followed. Likewise, the principle of “one family, one ticket” should also be ensured. In case another member of the family is politically active, they will be considered for a ticket only after five years of organisational experience.
  • A group from amongst the Congress Working Committee to be constituted at the national level, to advise the Congress president on important political issues and decisions, and help implement those decisions.
  • In every state, there should be a “Political Affairs Committee” to deliberate upon all important issues and drive a common political line for the party.
  • All the media, social media, research departments of the states should be placed directly under the communication department of the All India Congress Committee, so that the message of the party can be spread in every nook and corner of the country every day. Days later, Jairam Ramesh was appointed AICC general secretary in-charge of the revamped Communication department. Pawan Khera was appointed chairman of the media department and Supriya Shrinate as head of the social media wing.

The suggestions made by various groups were reflected in the resolution as separate heads. The resolution noted that the “Youth Group” has suggested that “at the organizational level, 50% of the positions should be reserved for those below 50 years of age”.

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The youth group also concluded that there should be a limit on retirement age for all elected posts such as MPs, MLAs and MLCs. In political appointments in future Congress governments, 50% positions should be given to those below 50 years of age. The experience of people beyond 50 should be utilised for strengthening the party organization. Beginning with the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, half of the tickets for Parliament, State Legislatures, State Councils and other electable posts should be given to those below 50.

First published on: 21-09-2022 at 07:41:03 pm
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