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.
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:
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”.
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.