Congress needs to find its Soul

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By Mrgya V

It is not just a leader that the Congress needs right now but the operationalisation of its own constitution, in its soul and letter, which will revive the status of the party in the country.

On Saturday, the first meeting of congress delegates was held after lockdown. This meeting was a reconciliation between the 23 leaders asking for reforms in the party and the current president and other members of the party.

In August twenty three leaders from congress party in an unprecedented move sent a letter to party leader Sonia Gandhi asking for major reforms in the party. Instead of hearing them, the intent behind the letter was questioned on lines of timing of the letter and the content of the letter was not discussed at all.

Finally, the congress president agreed to meet these dissenters in December who have been christened the G23.

The first reform these leaders are asking for is about the leadership of the party. They are of the view that the party should have a full time and effective leadership which is both visible and active in the field.

Then they demanded election to be held for the congress working committee, establishment to the institutional leadership mechanism to collectively guide the party’s revival. Institutional mechanism is the reestablishment of the concept of parliamentary board. Earlier it was functional in its full fledged form but for the last twenty to twenty five years it is not functional.

Second, they want decentralisation of power from the lowest level to the highest level, which will ultimately require the elections from block level to congress working committee level.

These leaders are of the view that uncertainty of leadership and drift of the party have a demoralising effect on workers. The nomination culture generates sycophancy and nepotism creating a grudge against each other inside the party only. Election will introduce transparency in the system and competitiveness among members against each other which will be fruitful for the party’s future.

Congress constitution itself talks about elections. It says twelve members of congress working committee will be elected by all india delegates of congress. Reality is that  these elections were last held in 1996. Since   then these twelve members are nominated by the party president itself. This creates corruption inside the party as whoever wins the confidence of the president becomes the member. It creates doubts about the process and qualification to reach that place. It promotes sycophants ​ ​ ​instead of a good​ working environment.

The next thing that the leaders are asking for is a regular meeting for brainstorming for the benefit of the party. Congress working committee meetings are merely episodic now. These are convened most of the time in the reaction to political development. It is not a regular work which can give a meaningful direction to the party. Even the congress parliamentary party is not deliberative for regular sessions.

Right now congress is facing multiple challenges like it losing relevance and voter base in the country. They need to improve their narrative so that they can specifically express their message to the people of the country. Only criticism of the government is not what is needed from the party but it needs to come up with alternative solutions also. It needs to deliver these alternative solutions in an effective manner that can make the masses improve the fading image of congress.

They need to improve their grip in the country by improving the organisation of the party. Currently this organisational part needs revival for the revival of the party’s position in the country. Long years has passed that party lost its grip in states like Tamil Nadu, U.P., Odisha. For a national party losing power for 10 to 15years is not a good sign.

As these ‘G23 members’ say that it’s not about who is party leader. He/She can be from the Gandhi family or a third person as it was for long after independence, but it’s about the system of the party that is losing its functioning and lots of malfunctioning is happening.

Reforms these leaders are asking are all about following the party’s own constitution. There is no harm at all in doing so.

It is up to the Congress president to decide whether she wants to save the two decade old dynasty or the century old secular party.


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