Identifying structural weaknesses of the Congress apparatus and the need to have micro-level election management are key learnings from the Udaipur Chintan Shivir, former Leader of the Opposition in the Kerala Assembly Ramesh Chennithala said on Sunday.
The senior Congress leader, who was part of a panel that suggested sweeping organisational reforms, asserted that the party needed to concentrate on reaching out to every voting household rather than harping on the “leadership issue” that, he claimed, “will sort itself out”.
He also played down poll strategist Prashant Kishor’s comments that Udaipur chintan shivir was a “failure” and the party was headed for a drubbing in the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh elections later this year.
“We have thoroughly examined the structural weaknesses of the party apparatus and have suggested some major changes,” Mr. Chennithala told The Hindu in an interview over the phone.
“The party has to reach to the grassroots because the election system has completely changed. One person has to be in-charge of 40 houses. We have to ensure micro-level management so that every household is in touch with the Congress. This is important as we have to counter disinformation campaigns by cadre-based parties. A separate general secretary in-charge of elections can look at these aspects,” he added.
Asked if the Congress is trying to adopt a “Kerala model” by announcing to set up a political affairs committee in every State unit, training for party workers and so on, he said, “It is correct that many of these things are in my State and to that extent it is a Kerala model. But we can’t simply put everything about Kerala in, say, Uttar Pradesh or Bihar. That’s why I have suggested to have separate constitutions for every State as we used to have earlier”.
Mr. Chennithala said the conclave had given clarity both in terms of ideology and programmes to reconnect with the people.
‘Secularism is the core’
Though the party intensely debated its articulation towards Hindutva in closed door sessions and senior leaders such as Kamal Nath and Bhupesh Baghel argued not to shy away from Hindu festivals, the Kerala Congress leader said, ”Secularism is the core of the Congress”.
Responding to Mr. Kishor’s prediction of a rout for the Congress in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, Mr. Chennithala said, ”His utterances won’t demoralise us. Under the leadership of the Gandhis, I am sure we can make a comeback in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls”.