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Revealed: Rahul Gandhi's 7-point plan for reviving the Congress

Panini Anand | Updated on: 13 February 2017, 3:15 IST

The ascension

  • Rahul Gandhi is likely to take control of the Congress party soon.
  • He wants to conduct internal elections and push an extensive membership drive to energise the party.
  • This would give him workers completely loyal to him.

The makeover

  • He wants the Congress to become a strong opposition by taking on the Narendra Modi government on issues of public concern.
  • He believes the party should initiate grassroots movements and hold the government accountable by using the RTI Act.
  • He wants to focus on the states first, not the Centre.

The hitches

  • If Gandhi succeeds, it will break the power of the old guard. They might try to scuttle his plans.
  • It isn\'t clear how the party will respond to his ideas, especially as he doesn\'t have a fixed timeline in mind.

Like it or not, Rahul Gandhi is the face of the Congress party now. And he is there to stay. He alone will decide what the future direction of the Grand Old Party will be. That is why it is important to know what's cooking in Rahul Gandhi's kitchen.

After much contemplation, Gandhi has decided to restructure the party. He has a plan, which he wants to implement systematically.

The media has been reporting Rahul's recent interventions as 'Rahul 2.0'. Here is a brief glimpse into the underlying thought process driving him and his six-point plan for the party.

Elections at all levels
Rahul Gandhi's first priority is to hold organisational elections at the block, district, state (Pradesh Congress Committee) and Central (All India Congress Committee) levels. He believes that elections will do two things - bring new and younger faces to the party and provide competition to entrenched party leaders. In addition, this would give him a rank and file that is grateful to him for opening up the leadership at all levels.
Membership drive

Rahul Gandhi wants a massive membership drive for the party but he also wants it done scientifically. Through the membership drive he wants to connect with new issues and new people - expanding both the span of public concerns of the party and its base. He wants this expanded electoral college to elect the future leaders of the party at the local, state and national levels.

Training workshops

Rahul Gandhi wants his partymen to be properly trained to understand not only the ideology of the Congress party but also local and national issues which confront them as the public face of the party. This will also help in the continuous evolution of the ideology of the party, he believes.

Build grassroots movements

Rahul Gandhi's focus for the next three years is going to be to get the Congress to build grassroots movements on issues of public concern. Instead of joining existing peoples' movements on various issues, Rahul wants the Congress to take up the role of building campaigns around people's issues which matter locally and regionally.

His meetings with Dalits in Madhya Pradesh, farmers in Punjab and Vidarbha, fishermen in Kerala and sanitation workers in Delhi are steps in that direction.

He believes that highlighting issues of these groups and building a movement around them with a critical mass will enable the party to bring these concerns to the public sphere.

It would also help generate new and connected grassroots-level leadership and help take on the local non-Congress governments on specific issues.

Be seen as a strong Opposition

Rahul Gandhi wants the party to engage the government on current political issues and oppose it wherever the Congress differs with its policies. Despite the dismal numbers in Parliament, he believes that this would project the Congress as a credible opposition party. Any time is an opportune time for Rahul Gandhi to take on the Modi government.

He believes that the only way to capture the imagination of the people is to be seen as a mature party which addresses real issues on a real time basis and provides an alternative vision.

He also wants to project himself as someone who is mature, confident and comfortable in politics. Active participation in day-to-day politics, he believes, will help him project that image.

Promote public scrutiny of government

Rahul Gandhi wants the Congress to hold the Modi government publicly accountable. He wants Congress party workers to get the details of expenditure on public works at all levels, examine them and critique them.

Local party workers will be asked to get these documents through the Right to Information Act. They will be trained to analyse such documents and the information they contain. Initially this will be done only at municipal levels and the outcomes watched carefully.

Rahul Gandhi believes that there is a need to build a movement around accountable governance. The idea is to occupy the mind-space of the voters and capture the imagination of the middle classes.

[twittable]Rahul Gandhi's deadline isn't the 2019 General Election. He wants to first focus on the states, not the Centre[/twittable]

To achieve these objectives, 2019 - the year the next general election is scheduled - is not the deadline Rahul is working towards.

He seems to be looking beyond the next general election and sees the present time as an opportunity to take risks and build the institutional structures of the party. How his party will respond to such a long-term objective remains to be seen.

Focus on states

For the moment, Rahul wants to target the states. He sees the limitations of parochial and identity politics and wants to create a space for the inclusive politics of the Congress in the states. He believes that only if the Congress becomes regionally strong, can it achieve anything at the national level.

He recognises that his plan will face many hurdles - including the opposition of the old guard. However, he thinks that if he is able to expand the base of the party and bring in new faces, he would have mustered adequate support to overcome the obstacles. As for the 'uncles' within who oppose him, he won't have to deal with them on his own.

Next up, watch out for what the Congress thinks of Rahul Gandhi: the confusions, strengths, limitations and challenges.

First published: 14 June 2015, 11:42 IST
Panini Anand @paninianand

Senior Assistant Editor at Catch, Panini is a poet, singer, cook, painter, commentator, traveller and photographer who has worked as reporter, producer and editor for organizations including BBC, Outlook and Rajya Sabha TV. An IIMC-New Delhi alumni who comes from Rae Bareli of UP, Panini is fond of the Ghats of Varanasi, Hindustani classical music, Awadhi biryani, Bob Marley and Pink Floyd, political talks and heritage walks. He has closely observed the mainstream national political parties, the Hindi belt politics along with many mass movements and campaigns in last two decades. He has experimented with many mass mediums: theatre, street plays and slum-based tabloids, wallpapers to online, TV, radio, photography and print.