"We will overcome," Congress president Sonia Gandhi said on Sunday as the electorally-thrashed party sought rejuvenation through a ‘Chintan Shivir’ in the Rajasthan city where a 'Bharat Jodo Yatra' (Unite India Yatra) from Kanyakumari to Kashmir starting October 2 was announced while deciding on some significant organisational reforms.
There were some significant changes in organisation as the Udaipur Declaration pitched for 50 per cent representation of youth in the organisation, ‘one person, one post’, ‘one family, one ticket’ with a rider of allowing an active party member working in the organisation for a minimum of five years and restricting the tenure of one person in one post to five years.
The Declaration also saw a change in Congress’ stand on the Women’s Reservation Bill with the party now supporting the demand for a ‘quota within quota’ for OBC women in Parliament and state Assemblies.
While the youth managed to ensure 50 per cent representation in organisation and elections, their suggestions for a retirement age for leaders in elections and organisations did not cut ice with the CWC. Similarly, a cooling-off period of three years suggested after a five-year stint in organisational post was also not accepted. The party also wanted a revamp of its communication apparatus, which was highlighted by Rahul during his address.
Suggestions before CWC for quota in the private sector, OBC reservation in Parliament and Assemblies and quota for SC, ST, OBC and minorities in organisation also did not find space in the declaration.
With a focus on the organisation, Congress also decided to set up three new departments – Public Insight Department for a feedback system, National Training Institute and an Election Management Department at all levels.
Delivering her concluding remarks, she announced the Kanyakumari to Kashmir to “strengthen the bonds of social harmony that are under stress, to preserve the foundational values of our Constitution that are under assault and to highlight the day-to-day concerns of crores of our people”. The district-level Jan Jagran Abhiyan will start on June 15.
Her announcement came minutes after former Congress president Rahul Gandhi admitted that the party’s connection with people has been broken.
Sonia’s announcement and Udaipur Declaration, explaining the future course of action, came after a Congress Working Committee meeting deliberated on reports on discussions by 430-odd leaders in six groups.
Sonia said a Task Force, whose members will be announced in the next 2-3 days, will be set up to drive the process of internal reforms discussed at Udaipur. The reforms with focus on the 2024 Lok Sabha polls will cover aspects of organisation including structure, rules for appointments to party posts, communications and publicity, outreach, finances and election management.
She also announced the setting up of an advisory group drawn from the CWC that would meet regularly to discuss and deliberate upon political issues and challenges before the party. The new group is not, however, a collective decision-making body but will help me get the benefit of the vast experience of senior colleagues, she said.