Not following Kamraj Plan cost Congress: Chidambaram

Not following Kamraj Plan cost Congress: Chidambaram

Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram. PTI Photo

After being out of power for nearly five years, Congress has said that continuance of senior ministers in the UPA government for 10 long years cost the party dear.

Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram said the Congress should have followed the ‘Kamraj Plan’ and sent senior ministers to strengthen the party organization.

“I think the real problem was – and I say this on behalf of the previous ministers in the government – we should not have remained ministers for 10 years. I think in the last couple of years, there should have been a Kamaraj Plan in the government and senior minister should have been asked to go back to the party,” Chidambaram said here Friday night.

Chidambaram and senior Congress leaders Kapil Sibal, Salman Khurshid, Manish Tewari, Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Sushmita Dev were participating in a panel discussion on the theme ‘Is India being redefined?’ moderated by All India Profession Congress Chairman Shashi Tharoor.

Chidambaram said by ignoring the ‘Kamraj Plan’, the party organization was neglected.

“That was a valuable lesson taught to us by Kamaraj and Jawaharlal Nehru, but a lesson we forgot. As a result, the party organization got neglected,” Chidambaram said.

Sibal, a former Law Minister, concurred with Chidambaram’s views on the Kamraj Plan but appeared unsure on the difference it could have made.

“I agree with PC that we could have had a Kamaraj plan.. Whether it would have made a substantial difference, I do not know,” Sibal said.

Chidambaram and Sibal were referring to the suggestion made by senior Congress leader Kumaraswamy Kamraj to the then Prime Minister  Nehru on deputing senior ministers give up their cabinet posts and work for the party.

The suggestion was made against the backdrop of Congress losing three Lok Sabha bypolls held after the 1962 war with China. According to the plan six union ministers and six chief ministers quit their posts to work for the party.

The ‘Kamraj Plan’ was seen as an attempt to shake the Congress out of the complacency that had crept in after being in power since Independence. Kamraj became the Congress President soon after his suggestions were implemented in 1963 and kept a close eye on the party and the government.

On Friday evening, the Congress leaders were responding to questions from the audience on the party’s inability to generate new ideas and assume a position to address the challenges faced by the country.

“As a citizen, if you believe that the Congress party has not risen to the challenge, I must admit our failure to that extent,” Chidambaram said adding that the party organization was being rebuilt very rapidly.

“I think we have built it substantially in Rajasthan, in Telangana, in Chhatisgarh and I hope the results of the elections would reflect that we have built the party organization,” Chidambaram said.

The Congress leaders also had to face some home-truths when a section of the audience -- who were also office bearers of the party's frontal organisations -- asked them to make greater efforts to reach out to the masses.

"The real work happens when party leaders hit the streets and not by merely sharing old speeches of BJP leaders on social media," a member of the audience said

Another member of the audience, who identified himself as an office bearer of the party, wanted Congress leaders to reach out to the masses through universities, colleges and numerous villages to spread the message of the party.

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