On Monday, Shashi Tharoor’s endorsement of a petition being circulated by “a group of young Congress members” asking candidates who contest for the party’s coming presidential elections to undertake a public pledge to implement the Udaipur Declaration in entirety aroused much curiosity.
Tharoor had tweeted screenshots of the petition in English and Malayalam and said it has already gathered over 650 signatures. Among those who have signed the petition include Congress leaders Praveen Chakravarty, K Raju, many MPs and office-bearers. So, who mooted the idea of circulating such a petition which has now said to have gathered over 2,500 signatures.
I welcome this petition that is being circulated by a group of young @INCIndia members, seeking constructive reforms in the Party. It has gathered over 650 signatures so far. I am happy to endorse it & to go beyond it. https://t.co/2yPViCDv0v pic.twitter.com/waGb2kdbTu
Sources said a group of Congress leaders led by Chakravarty — the head of AICC’s data analytics department — thought about it. Chakravarty was said to be the brain behind the idea. He then bounced off the idea with AICC in-charge of the Youth Congress Krishna Allavaru, IYC president Srinivas B V, AICC in-charge of training department Sachin Rao and many MPs.
There was a broad consensus that moving such a petition before the nomination process to put some sort of “pressure” on the candidates to implement the Udaipur roadmap was a positive intervention. “There is no agenda or sinister plan behind the petition. We are just a group of ideologically committed party members whose fortunes are tied to the party’s fortunes issuing an honest appeal,” an MP told The Indian Express.
Among those signed so far are party MP Jothimani, former MP Meenakshi Natarajan, former AICC secretary Prakash Joshi, and office-bearers like Sirivella Prasad. “Most of those who have endorsed the petition are PCC delegates who are voters in the presidential election. The petition link will be active till election day…once you click on the link…and enter your mobile number….you will get an OTP…so we know who all are signing,” said a leader who is behind the initiative.
When reached out, Chakravarty told The Indian Express “a group of us felt that it was important to reiterate the significance of the Udaipur Declaration and the need to honour those commitments by the next president. Hence, we decided to appeal to all candidates in the upcoming election to undertake a pledge. This was issued much before nominations opened and is equally applicable to all candidates. We are glad that it has found resonance .”
Listing a few “tenets” of the Udaipur Declaration like providing “reservation to increase representation of women, SC, ST, OBC and minorities in party positions and electoral tickets” and carrying out organisational reforms to open up space for newer people, the petition appeals to “each candidate in the election for the president of the All India Congress Committee to undertake a public pledge to involve party members from block committees up to the CWC and implement the Udaipur Declaration in entirety within the first 100 days of assuming office.”
Among the organisational reforms announced by the party at the Udaipur chintan shivir were enforcing a ‘one person, one post’ rule, implementing a ‘one family, one ticket’ rule with some riders, providing 50 per cent representation for those below 50 years of age at all levels, including the CWC, and a five-year-term limit for those holding positions at all levels.