NEW DELHI: With the BJP going in for a massive membership drive from November, the Congress office-bearers at the first review meeting with party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, following the electoral rout in Maharashtra and Haryana, also focused on ways to use the organisational elections to “reinvigorate and rejuvenate” the party.
The organisational polls for electing the office-bearers at all levels, since the last amendment to the Congress’ constitution after Rahul had joined as general secretary, has been become five-yearly, instead of three. It has also blurred the dividing line between ‘primary’ and ‘active’ members of the party, making it all the same.
This, however, has put the party in a fix with sources indicating that the enrolment of new members as result will come down from three- and-a-half crore in the last such exercise to “numbers in lakhs”.
Earlier, a ‘primary member’ could become ‘active’ Congress wallah only after enrolling a minimum of 25 persons to the party fold. This, apparently, led to large-scale fake memberships which Rahul decided to do away with after he joined in. Now, all members across states have identical photo-IDs to prove their membership.
But what the state Congress’ office-bearers was more bothered about at the meeting was the effect the Congress’ dwindling electoral fortunes, first in the Lok Sabha and then in key state elections, would have on the membership drive.
Rahul, however, bypassed such issues and asked the party leaders to ensure that the organisational elections were “free, fair and transparent” so that the party can be become fighting fit once again.
He is also said to have harped on the point that full powers have been given to the party’s Central Election Authority, headed by Mullapally Ramachandran, so the exercise was truly effective and foolproof.
Rahul’s remarks came as the Congress continued to face a trail of defeat and there is a buzz about the possibility of sweeping changes in the party organisation in the near future. Organisational weakness has been cited as one of the major reasons for the debacle of the Congress starting from the 2010 Assembly elections in Bihar,also in Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh in 2012. It was one of the factors that contributed to the defeat of the Congress in the Lok Sabha polls, apart from
price rise and perception of corruption, which were attributed as the main factors for the party’s poor showing.
The Congress general secretaries incharge of the states and a number of PCC chiefs, besides the members of the election authority participated in Tuesday’s meeting. The process for organisational elections in the party has begun, which will culminate in the election of a new party president next year.
Last week, Congress supremo Sonia had done a stock-taking exercise following the party’s debacle in the Assembly polls in Haryana and Maha even as a clamour for “course correction” grows within its ranks.