After the party’s drubbing in the recent assembly elections in five states, top Congress leaders will soon meet at a ‘Chintan Shivir’ to deliberate on measures for reviving the organisation at the grassroots level and address fresh challenges.
Sources said the party has convened a meeting of its general secretaries and in-charges on Tuesday to work out modalities for the conclave, which is likely to be held in Rajasthan.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his Chhattisgarh counterpart Bhupesh Baghel have already offered to host the Shivir in their respective states, and the party leadership may settle for Jaipur in Rajasthan, owing to its proximity to the national capital.
During the last meeting of the Congress Working Committee, when the party leadership faced fresh demands for organisational overhaul in the wake of defeat in five states, it was decided that the party will hold another CWC meet after the Parliament session and finalise details of the Chintan Shivir.
The major brainstorming session will chalk out a strategy for course correction to reverse the trend of electoral defeats as the party is now in power in only two states of Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh and is part of the ruling coalition in Maharashtra and Jharkhand.
The Congress leadership wants every Congress leader to openly discuss the shortcomings and corrective measures to be taken to help spread its ideology and make it fighting fit electorally in the next poll season, party sources said.
The party is already fighting internal challenges posed by leaders of the G-23, and Congress president Sonia Gandhi has asked them to air their grievances for resolution at a party platform like the upcoming brainstorming session.
Her aim is to bring about unity at all levels of the party, which she has stressed several times in her dialogue with leaders, in order to see a strong organisation to take on the might of the BJP, they said.
The continous tussle between the old guard and the younger generation has also taken a toll and the issue is likely to be discussed, the sources said.
The party is also taking steps to address fresh challenges posed in view of the victory of the Aam Aadmi Party in Punjab, after which Arvind Kejriwal’s party is seeking to spread its wings in other parts of the country and is seen as vying to displace the Congress as the principal rival to the BJP.
The Congress is already gearing up for assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh later this year, besides other state polls and the Lok Sabha election in 2024.
It has already accepted that it could not effectively ”expose the misrule” of BJP state governments in four states of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur, due to shortcomings in its strategy.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi has also said that she is ready ”to make every sacrifice” in the interest of the party.
The top decision-making body of the Congress has, however, decided that she continue as Congress chief till organisational elections are completed.
While reposing full faith in her leadership, the CWC urged her to effect immediate corrective changes to strengthen the party and meet the political challenges ahead of the next round of elections.
The CWC had said that the recent results in assembly elections are a ”cause of serious concern” for the party.
Several leaders have suggested immediate corrective measures to revamp and re-strengthen the organisation at all levels.
Sonia Gandhi also held several meetings with party leaders in the past few days, including those of the G23 who have been critical of the leadership and have demanded organisational overhaul.
The Congress’ nationwide membership drive that started on November 1st, 2021, ended on March 31, 2022, but the leadership decided to continue the enrolment of fresh members till April 15 without disturbing the schedule of organisational elections.
There is already growing clamour within the organisation for Rahul Gandhi to take over the party leadership once again. Gandhi had quit as Congress chief taking full moral responsibility after the party’s defeat in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, after which Sonia Gandhi has run the party as interim president.
With the Congress organisational polls underway, the party would have a new party president between August 21 and September 20 this year and thereafter, elections to the CWC would be held by October at the All India Congress Committee Plenary session.
The District Congress Committees will publish the list of members and the eligible candidates for various party bodies between April 1 to April 15, followed by the election of the president and executive committees at the block levels. This process would be completed between April 16 to May 31 this year, the party has said.
The elections at the Congress District Committee levels for deciding local presidents, vice presidents and treasurers will happen between June 1 and July 20. Election to PCCs would be held between July 21 to August 22 this year.