New Delhi, March 11: Rahul Gandhi’s questionnaire aimed at eliciting the truth about political activities of the Pradesh Congress Committees (PCCs) has created panic among several office-bearers and some are questioning the need for such corporate-style probes.
The four-page questionnaire seeks details of activities planned and executed by the PCC. It raises questions such as when the last meeting of the office-bearers was held and the district Congress committee (DCCs) met, what programmes were conducted in the past one year and which posts are lying vacant and seeks a list of local issues of public concern.
The intention is to gauge the state of organisational affairs in states, the leadership quality and the level of engagement with the voters. The general secretary in charge of a state, the AICC secretary, the PCC president and the Congress legislature party leader will have to sign the questionnaire to authenticate the answers provided by every state. Such a rule has been introduced in an attempt to curb the tendency to bluff and put in place a performance-based reward system that Rahul has been talking about.
However, the initiative has not evoked a positive response from the office-bearers, though several ordinary workers have welcomed it.
The entrenched leaders feel such managerial systems do not work in politics as political battles are fought on a different plane and blame Rahul’s “lack of experience” for such misadventures.
But another section feels a mechanism had to be evolved to assess the performance, abilities and commitment of those who manage the party.
A former MP told The Telegraph: “This will jolt the organisation out of inertia. There should be specific questions about which senior leader participated in which rally, who sabotaged, who is friendly with the BJP and so onů.”
One sitting Lok Sabha MP said: “We have glaring instances of people holding important posts for years, or even decades, and doing nothing for the party. Some even sulk as their expectations to be an MP or a minister didn’t fructify. If we assess them on vote value, they will be proven worthless. Rahulji must enforce this practice of strict scrutiny if he is serious about reforming the organisation.”
The contrarian view is equally strident. Many leaders accuse Rahul of “destroying the Youth Congress” and now unnecessarily disturbing the parent party instead of winning the confidence of the people across the country.
These leaders ask about the high command’s inaction in states where the Congress is weak. They list states such as Bihar, Odisha, Bengal and Tamil Nadu and want to know who should be held responsible.
A veteran asked: “Who picks general secretaries who never contest elections, have no clout, no mass appeal? Who decided to make so many bureaucrats governors? Who promotes coterie culture? Rahul should focus on these serious maladies instead of drifting to an unknown path of organisational reform.”
There is panic and dismay among the office-bearers because of the proposals that PCC and DCC presidents should not be allowed to contest elections.
A PCC chief said: “This is a stupid idea. We are heading state units because we have clout and merit. This cannot be turned into a disability. If there is a survey, 99 per cent of PCC and DCC chiefs will object to this clause.”
The office-bearers are now focusing their energy on holding meetings and earning good marks. But the real test will unfold if and when Rahul begins to punish the entrenched forces for non-performance.