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Why Sonia Gandhi does not want Chintan Shivir to become a Congress ritual

On 13 May, Congress leaders will travel to Udaipur to attend ‘Chintan Shivir’, a three-day brainstorming session, to deliberate on several themes including political, economical, farmers, youth and organisational issues. The last such programme was held in Jaipur in 2013

Congress Working Committee meeting chaired by Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Monday. Twitter/ @INCIndia

On 13 May, Congress leaders on different rungs of party hierarchy will travel to Udaipur in Rajasthan to attend ‘Chintan Shivir’, a three-day brainstorming session essentially to deliberate on several themes.

The Congress will hold the three-day brainstorming conclave in the Rajasthan city to chalk out its future strategy for taking up challenges on the political, economic and organisational fronts.

It is, however, not the first time that the Congress party has gone back to the drawing board to strategise after a political debacle or ahead of a major challenge.

What is the Chintan Shivir all about?

Party president Sonia Gandhi said during a Congress Working Committee meeting that around 400 Congress members will be attending the Chintan Shivir in Udaipur from 13 to 15 May and stressed on the message of every leader holding one party post.

The party has made every effort to ensure a balanced representation from every angle, she said.

According to a report by the Economic Times, the Chintan Shivir will pave the way for the revival of the Congress Parliamentary Board (CPB), make decisions on granting only one ticket per family and making mandatory a three-year cooling off period for office bearers of the AICC, PCC and DCC after their first full term.

The brainstorming session will also take up the proposal of pruning the Congress committee panels.
It is believed that the party’s one-family-one ticket proposal comes after the BJP’s dynasty barbs.
The three-day camp will decide whether the proposals are accepted or rejected through discretionary powers to the top leadership.

The Economic Times reported that the BS Hooda-led panel on farmers issue will propose that the future Congress governments will make central legislation for legal guarantee of the Minimum Support Price (MSP).

The panel also wants to make procurement of farm products by open market at below MSP rate “a punishable crime” and fix future export/import tariff rates by protecting domestic market interest of farmers.

Why Sonia doesn’t want it to be a ritual?

Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Monday stressed that the Chintan Shivir should not become a ritual that has to be gone through.

“I request your full cooperation in ensuring that the single over-riding message that goes forth loud and clear from Udaipur is one of unity, cohesion, determination and commitment to our party’s accelerated revival,” she said

She stressed on the need for the party to emerge united and reminded all that the time is now for the party leaders to “repay our debt to the party”.

“I am determined that it should herald a restructured organisation to meet the many ideological, electoral and managerial challenges we confront,” she said.

Speaking at the CWC meet, she, in an apparent appeal to the Congress change-seekers, said while criticism is okay it should not be to the extent of demoralising the party.

Look back at such meets in the past

It is not new for the Congress party to huddle up to strategise its next move or ponder over its performance.

Between 1996 and 2004, when the Congress was in the Opposition, the party held two chintan shivirs in Pachmarhi in 1998 and Shimla in 2003, one AICC session and two AICC special sessions, according to The Indian Express.

Even when it was in power from 2004 to 2014, the party organised five conclaves — a chintan shivir at Jaipur, two AICC sessions, a plenary and a special session.

However, in the last eight years, arguably the most difficult time in party history, the Congress has held only one national conclave, the 2018 AICC plenary session in Delhi.

With inputs from agencies

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