Congress begins revamp process with focus on building leadership for future
Sonia Gandhi

Congress begins revamp process with focus on building leadership for future

New Delhi, April 13, 2022

The Congress has sought to strike a balance between the young and the experienced as it kick-started the process of revamping the state units after the party's crushing poll defeat in five states.

The young faces have been brought in to lead the organisation while the veterans are assigned the responsibility of cornering the governments inside the assemblies.

In Punjab, Congress President Sonia Gandhi named 44-year-old Amarinder Singh Brar alias Raja Warring as the new state chief and 65-year-old Partap Singh Bajwa, the leader of the Congress Legislative Party (CLP).

Similarly, in Uttarakhand, she appointed Karan Mahara, 49, as the state unit president and 70-year-old Yashpal Arya the CLP leader.

But Goa has been given a completely young team. Amit Patkar, 38, is the new state unit chief while 45-year-old Michael Lobo, who quit the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to join the Congress four months ago, is the new CLP leader.

These changes indicate the Congress leadership's willingness to experiment with young blood to rejuvenate the party that is unable to stem the electoral slide set in after the Lok Sabha poll debacle in 2014.

With this generational shift, the grand old party is also seeking to build the leadership for the future.

Old timers recall the organisational reshuffle carried out by Rajiv Gandhi when he took over as the Congress President after the assassination of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984. He had appointed young leaders as Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chiefs such as Ahmed Patel (Gujarat), Ashok Gehlot (Rajasthan) and Digvijaya Singh (Madhya Pradesh).

The appointments made by Congress President Sonia Gandhi have been lauded by leaders and workers though it took nearly a month to decide on the names.

Soon after the results of assembly elections in Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa, Manipur and Uttar Pradesh were declared on March 10 and the Congress registered a dismal show, Sonia Gandhi had sought the resignations of all the five state unit chiefs.

The move, a first in many years, came amid growing clamour within the party to fix the responsibility for the poor poll performance.

In the past, the Congress had set up several committees to look into the reasons for the election losses but rarely fixed accountability.

The party has often faced flak for its status quoist approach and inordinate delay in decision-making, much to the frustration of leaders and workers.

This has resulted in the exodus of many senior leaders and office-bearers too. Jyotiraditya Scindia, Jitin Prasada and R P N Singh quit the Congress when they were in-charge of different states. All the three are in the BJP now.

An unrest within its ranks is also brewing in Himachal Pradesh and Haryana where the hunt for new state chiefs seems never ending.

Himachal Pradesh will go to polls along with Gujarat in November-December this year while elections are scheduled to be held in Haryana in 2024 after the Lok Sabha polls.

The worry for the Congress is also that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is now eyeing its space in Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and other states too after its historic victory in Punjab.

The AAP's expansion drive will hurt the Congress more than the BJP that boasts of a well-oiled election machinery. Arvind Kejriwal's party has already been projecting itself as a credible alternative to a much-weakened Congress. It is also going all out in states where the main contest was between the BJP and the Congress.

At present, the Congress is in power in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh and in the ruling coalition in Maharashtra and Jharkhand.

To stem the electoral slide, the Congress will have to go back to the drawing board and evolve an effective counter strategy to win back the support of various sections of the people.

It will also have to promote young leadership in other states too and crack the whip on non-performers.

Besides, the time has come for the Congress high command to give up its status quoist approach and take hard and quick decisions to put the party back on track once again.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NetIndian and NetIndian does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.


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