The Congress with a new direction and decisionstext_fields
The 85th Plenary Session of Indian National Congress concluded on Sunday with a determination to regain its lost glory with unity, discipline and willpower and win power at the Centre by defeating the BJP in the next general elections. The four-day conclave in Raipur, Chhattisgarh - one of the two Congress-ruled states in the country - concluded with the focus on and preparations for the next election. The common strain in the 58 political resolutions tabled in the conference is a response to the challenge by Union Home Minister and second of the duo leading the ruling party, Amit Shah that the BJP will not have to contest the 2024 general elections. The conference openly accepted the BJP's challenge. Moving a step forward from the style of an election manifesto, some of the resolutions contain even details of a future government's policies for the financial year 2024-25. The Plenary session's resolutions include doubling the budget allocation for health care, stabilisation of constitutional institutions, cleansing of elections, freedom of judiciary and media, protection of civil rights and freedom, new programs for economic and social empowerment of the marginalized and minorities. The party plans to release a vision document 2024, covering all issues like unemployment, poverty alleviation, inflation, women empowerment and national security. It has also been clarified that unlike during the last election, the Congress will not go after Prime Minister Narendra Modi alone, but instead will focus on campaigning to expose the failures of Modi's administration, which has plunged the country into crisis.
Alleging that the BJP has become a party of elite 'priests', the Congress has announced a caste census and legislation against hate crimes against Dalits, minorities and women. The party has also planned programs to reach out to the underprivileged minorities such as financial support for enterprises started by women belonging to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and minority groups, financial assistance to those who pass out of classes 10 and 12, and allowance for housewives. The party constitution has also been amended to reserve fifty percent of party seats for Scheduled Castes/Tribes/Minorities. Half of all reserved and non-reserved posts have also been set aside for women and youth. In the last elections, the Congress lost ground among urban residents. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) made inroads into that segment. Therefore, development programs aimed at urban voters will also be part of the agenda in the new policy document.
Raipur also saw signs of the Congress' new realization that when the BJP pushes forward its Hindutva agenda and its soft version is being taken up by the AAP, the vain attempt to dilute Hindutva made over the years would result in further narrowing the vote bank. The party is shifting to an attempt to consolidate anti-BJP votes by stopping vote splintering and leakage. To avoid the splintering, the conference extended both hands for a broad front and strongly warned against the suicidal move for a third front. It has been decided to strongly oppose BJP's Hindutva-racism and frenzied nationalism by pointing out its failings in actual experience. Social revival and social justice will be highlighted as alternatives to Hindutva. The party will expose the hypocrisy and double-talk of the BJP, which uses nationalism as a polarizing weapon, by highlighting their inaction against China's encroachment and the government's ceding of the country to the Modi-era East India Company called Adani. The Congress seems to have made some home work for formulating a comprehensive plan of action to remove the BJP from power.
The Bharat Jodo Yatra helped the Congress to get a feel of the public sentiment at the grassroots level. Another cross-country march has been decided from Arunachal Pradesh to Gujarat. It is in the light of those experiences that the Raipur session decided to present a robust new Congress with a mass base and cadre structure as equipment to face the upcoming elections with a clear direction. As Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi said in the conference, the success of the decisions depends on how the resolutions are implemented. It may be recalled that a similar decision to revive the party had been taken earlier. The Chintan Shibir held at Udaipur last May also saw decisive results. It is not clear if Rahul and Priyanka were prompted to make the comment at Raipur by the experience of the Udaipur resolutions lying by the wayside. But one thing is clear: the new Congress slogan is to stand hand in hand (Hath Se Hath Jodo) and it is translated into action, the Congress is not only still young but even full of a potential vigour of youth for a battle.