When seven of the 23 senior Congress politicians who referred to as for a sweeping organisational overhaul in August met social gathering president Sonia Gandhi on Saturday, they supplied a number of recommendations to revive the 135-year-old political social gathering. Key among the many recommendations was the function of the president who, they stated, must be hands-on and lead from the entrance.
Termed an icebreaker, this was the primary in-person interplay amid the Covid-19 pandemic between representatives of the group of dissenters and Sonia Gandhi and different social gathering leaders. Hindustan Times spoke to a number of of the 20-odd attendees on the sort of modifications the group needed within the social gathering.
Individual members of the group who spoke by flip put ahead their views as did and another attendees akin to former finance minister P Chidambaram. Many of the modifications advised within the All India Congress Committee (AICC) have been put ahead by Chidambaram, who didn’t reply to queries from HT. “There must be individuals who sit within the workplace day by day and be accessible for conferences and never the sort of ghost city that it (Congress headquarters) is now,’’ one of many group of seven dissenters who attended the assembly stated on situation of anonymity. “We needed a President to work inside a revived intra-party establishment.’’
Uncertainty over management has weakened the Congress and demoralised its employees, the controversial letter written by 23 leaders to Sonia Gandhi on August 7 stated, warning the excessive command of the erosion of its assist base with the desertion of functionaries throughout states, and calling for an overhaul of the social gathering organisation and a “seen” management.
The letter additionally sought introspection of the explanations behind the social gathering’s “steady decline,” and appealed to the Congress management to take the initiative for the formation of a “national coalition of democratic and secular forces” towards the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Of the 23 signatories to the letter, chief of the Opposition within the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, his deputy within the House Anand Sharma, former union ministers Manish Tewari and Shashi Tharoor, former chief ministers of Haryana and Maharashtra Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Prithviraj Chavan and the pinnacle of the social gathering’s authorized division Vivek Tankha attended the assembly.
The establishments that the letter writers referred to at Saturday’s social gathering assembly have been each current ones and a few new ones they need created. For occasion, they advised the appointment of 1, two or much more working presidents who would assist the social gathering president operate extra successfully.
This proposal has accomplished the rounds for years now particularly across the time Rahul Gandhi was to take over as social gathering president, which he did in December 2017, solely to surrender the put up in May 2019 after the Congress’s debacle within the common elections, paving the bottom for Sonia Gandhi to develop into interim social gathering chief. The idea of a working president has been revived with higher vigour since then.
The solely precedent of a working president within the Congress dates again to the Rajiv Gadhi period. Because he was Prime Minister and in addition the Congress president, he selected veteran Kamalapati Tripathi as working president and Arjun Singh grew to become social gathering vice-president.
“The concept is to have a extra consultative administration of the social gathering,’’ stated one other key chief. To this finish, the letter writers additionally advised that the Pradesh Congress Committee chiefs be empowered to do extra. They identified that for the time being, PCC chiefs have been reporting to common secretaries who have been “de facto kings.’
The letter writers, particularly Ghulam Nabi Azad, chief of the opposition within the Rajya Sabha, additionally proposed restarting the Parliamentary board of the Party. This is a physique that also finds point out in Article 25 , clause A of the social gathering’s structure. The clause says the physique will likely be headed by the social gathering president and can have 9 different members, one among whom would be the chief of the social gathering in Parliament.
“People confuse the operate of the board. The structure says that its objective is to control and coordinate the parliamentary actions of Congress’ legislatures,’’ stated the second chief cited above. The August letter writers advised that the Parliamentary board meet usually in order that it could take a coordinated view of present points.
When this was advised, nonetheless, Sonia Gandhi identified that the physique had been scrapped by PV Narasimha Rao when he was social gathering president in 1992.
Party insiders stated Rao’s was a nuanced transfer.”`During the plenary session at Tirupati (in 1992), Arjun Singh, Jitendra Prasad and others shaped a syndicate and gained elections to the Congress Working Committee (CWC). Since they’d now have a say over the members of the Parliamentary board, Rao stated that there wasn’t some extent in having a board . A day later, they have been made to concern a decision that empowered the Congress president (Rao) to reconstitute all our bodies,” one old-time Congressman stated.
Finally, a suggestion was made to carry elections to decide on members of the CWC, the best resolution making physique of the social gathering. The final time elections happened to the CWC have been beneath Sitaram Kesri in 1997. In the final plenary session of the Congress, Ghulam Nabi Azad moved a decision that junked elections to the CWC in favour of members’ nomination by the Congress president. The CWC’s time period expires in 2022 and the letter writers need the a switch-back to the system of elections by then.
One of the modifications advised at Saturday’s assembly was instantly accepted. Former minister Manish Tiwari proposed “chintan shivirs”, or introspection conferences; its acceptance was introduced by the Congress’s Pawan Bansal.
Tiwari didn’t reply to queries from HT.
Now the letter writers are ready for the social gathering to maneuver on their different recommendations. They embody one for the social gathering to articulate a transparent ideological view. For occasion, HIndustan Times learns, Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor stated he didn’t agree with the gentle Hindutva method being espoused by some social gathering members within the north.
Some of the August letter writers are optimistic that the management will settle for their proposals for reform, however others are sceptical. “They are simply going by means of the motions. Why else would they’ve a press convention a day earlier than to announce 99% need Rahul Gandhi to return,’’ stated one among signatories, requesting anonymity.
Another signatory stated he and different signatories didn’t have any drawback with Rahul Gandhi turning into the Congress president by means of an election course of. He warned that he and the others would resist any transfer to “impose a proxy” on the social gathering.
There are others among the many dissenters who really feel that the Gandhis did make an try at rapprochement .