Congress presidential candidate Shashi Tharoor on Wednesday asserted that if he becomes the All India Congress Committee (AICC) chief, he would fully implement the party's existing constitution which requires Congress Working Committee (CWC) elections and revival of the parliamentary board that has been dormant for a quarter-century.
In an interview with PTI, Mr. Tharoor also said the Congress must decentralise authority and truly empower the grassroots office-bearers of the party.
The Lok Sabha MP from Thiruvananthapuram said he would fully implement the Udaipur Declaration which was unanimously agreed at the party's Chintan Shivir earlier this year.
Asked about his plans for the party if he wins the electoral contest against Mallikarjun Kharge for the top post, the former Union Minister said, "I think an important first step would be to call for elections to the Working Committee to spread our inner-party democracy even further." "I am going to implement fully the existing Constitution, which requires CWC elections and the revival of the parliamentary board that has been dormant for a quarter-century, and the Udaipur Declaration which was unanimously agreed," Mr. Tharoor said.
The holding of the Congress Working Committee elections and the revival of the parliamentary board were among the key demands of the group of 23 leaders, including Mr. Tharoor, who wrote to party chief Sonia Gandhi in 2020 seeking large scale organisational reforms.
At the Shivir, the Congress had adopted the Udaipur Declaration which included wide-ranging organisational reforms to make the party battle-ready for the next round of Sssembly and Lok Sabha polls, including wider representation to those under 50 years of age and enforcing 'one person, one post' and 'one family, one ticket' rules with riders.
Mr. Tharoor said that as he has pointed out in his manifesto that the Congress must empower the party in the states by giving real authority to the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) presidents, block, mandal and booth presidents.
"We must decentralise authority and truly empower the grassroots office-bearers of the party. Our PCC delegates, for instance, have literally had no role for the last 22 years but to vote in the coming election on October 17th!" the 66-year-old leader said.
"I want their elected status to be honoured by ensuring PCC delegates a place on the platform when any senior leader comes visiting, involve them in the consultations that must take place before candidates are selected for elections, and so on," he said.
Mr. Tharoor stressed that the Congress must provide a credible alternative to the BJP’s "centralisation of authority" in its party affairs and in the affairs of governance.
"I have been a big fan of the 2014 UPA election slogan 'Main nahin, hum'. Re-imagining the organisation, delegating powers to grassroots level leaders and empowering our workers as stakeholders in our success, will not only free the new president from the onerous burdens of over-administration, but help recreate the strong state leadership that, in past eras, strengthened the Congress’ national appeal," he said.
Mr. Tharoor, who has run an energetic campaign across various states to seek the support of the PCC delegates for his Congress presidential bid, also said the response from ordinary party workers, especially young delegates, has been immensely encouraging.
"Many have even volunteered to spread my message among their own circles and are supporting my campaign with a level of enthusiasm that is both inspiring and humbling," he said.
"I look forward to continuing to put my best foot forward and to work as hard as humanly possible in this campaign, which is the only way I can repay their faith and trust in my candidacy," the senior Congress leader said.
Mr. Tharoor has asserted that he is the candidate of reform and change in the way the party is run, only to make it fighting fit to tackle the BJP in 2024.
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Mr. Tharoor is pitted against Mr. Kharge, who is being seen as a favourite for the top party post because of his perceived proximity to the Gandhi family.
However, Mr. Tharoor has reiterated time and again that the Gandhi family has made it clear that they are staying above the fray and are neutral.
At a press conference during the Bharat Jodo Yatra last week, Rahul Gandhi had dismissed claims that the next Congress president would be "remote-controlled" by his family, saying both the contenders -- Mr. Kharge and Mr. Tharoor -- are people of stature and understanding and to make such a suggestion was insulting for them.
The Congress presidential poll will take place on October 17 and the results will be out on October 19.