UDAIPUR: The 'Chintan Shivir' in Udaipur began with interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi highlighting the urgent need for "meaningful aatmachintan about our party organisation".
The three-day brainstorming session is a bid to identify a revival strategy for the Grand Old Party and Sonia Gandhi asked leaders at the Nav Sankalp Shivir to be ready to make sacrifices for rebuilding the Congress. She remarked, "the party has given us a lot, now is the time to repay the debt. Today a time has come when we have to keep our aspirations under the interests of the organization. The party has given us a lot, now is the time to pay off the debt."
Addressing the over 400 office-bearers of the party who are in Udaipur, she urged them to realize the urgent need for reform in Congress.
"The situation that has arisen in front of our organization today is unprecedented. Every organization has to bring changes from time to time to survive and we have a dire need of reforms, changes in strategy, improvement and in the way of working daily. Our revival will be possible only with collective effort. This effort cannot be avoided nor will it be avoided, this camp is an effective step in this direction,” asserted an introspective Sonia.
Sonia Gandhi said that the twin aims of the Nav Sankalp Shivir are "Chintan on national issues and aatmachintan about our party organisation".
She also trained her guns on the Modi government stressing how the fire of hatred is taking a heavy toll on people's lives.
Sonia argued that it is now "painfully clear what PM Modi and his colleagues really mean by their slogan 'Maximum governance, minimum government'... It means keeping the country in a permanent state of polarisation, compelling people to live in a constant state of fear and viciously targeting and often brutalising minorities who're an integral part of our society and equal citizens of our republic. It means intimidating political opponents and maligning their reputation by jailing them on flimsy pretexts and misusing investigating agencies against them."
She asserted that "we have to combat these trends at all costs".
Besides the Congress president, the party’s Rajasthan in-charge Ajay Maken gave a clear indication of the changes that the party is considering. Talking to the media, Maken said there will be a radical change in the Congress organization.
Ahead of crucial polls, the Congress plans to reserve half the party positions at every level for those below the age of 50. This is a clear indication that the Congress will focus more and more on the youth factor.
Ajay Maken asserted that "big changes" are in store in the Congress and that there is unanimity on bringing back the "One Family, One Ticket" rule, which bars more than one person from a family from contesting elections. However, he hinted that the Gandhis would be spared.
"There is unanimity on this rule. If family members still want to contest then they should have been active for five years," said Maken, who also said that all the Gandhis have been active for the last five years including Priyanka Gandhi who began working formally for the party in 2018.
To finalise changes in the Congress, six groups have been formed which will take up subjects related to the organisation, economic and political situation in the country, social justice, farmers and youth.
In a further indication of involving the youth in a bigger way, a group of young leaders held a media interaction.
Congress spokesperson Ragini Nayak said in Udaipur, "We want to start with youngsters. Political participation of youngsters in the country is an important issue. We talk about participatory democracy but if youth isn't part of it, can the democratic system work properly?"
Rahul Gandhi is likely to address the Nav Sankalp Shivir on the last day on Sunday amid calls from a section of the party for his return as Congress president.