Congress weighs youth quota, feedback route
The Congress is considering significant changes to its organisational structure, including the establishment of a public insight department to ensure continuous feedback from the ground, a performance assessment wing for office-bearers, and 50 per cent reservation for the young at all levels in the party.
Although what shape these proposals finally take will be known after the conclusion of the three-day Chintan Shivir which began discussions on Friday, the leadership is keen to adopt these changes, suggested by the various committees formed to prepare the agenda.
Party general secretary Ajay Maken, who is part of the committee on organisation, said a consensus was emerging on these changes which would be executed within a fixed time frame.
The party used to hire professional agencies during elections to get feedback from the ground, but the public insight department will now keep its finger on the popular pulse round the year.
This is meant to address the concerns about a disconnect with public sentiments and provide the leadership with real-time feedback on the popular mood and which issues are affecting the pubic and how. The department will play a key role in elections as well.
The party has also decided to establish an assessment wing to monitor the performance of its departments and office-bearers. A better discipline-enforcement system too may be evolved under this department.
A proposal for not allowing anybody to hold a post for more than five years at a stretch is also on the table. A three-year cooling-off period has been proposed before reappointment.
A proposal for 50 per cent reservation in all posts for the young — those below 50 years -— is under consideration although some senior leaders feel that such a rigid criterion could prove counter-productive as experience is an invaluable asset in politics.
The proposal is to enforce the reservation strictly from the highest body, the Congress Working Committee, to the booth level. This faces some serious opposition although most are wary of airing their concerns openly.
The party has also decided to expand the organisational structure.
“There was a huge gap between the booth committee and the block committee. Now we will introduce mandal committees in between,” Ajay Maken said.
“There will be one mandal committee for 15-20 booth committees. Under one block committee, there will be three to five mandal committees. This will allow the party to accommodate more leaders from the grassroots level in the system.”
The “one ticket for one family” proposal has been sufficiently diluted to resolve complex questions. No leader will now be able to claim a ticket for a son, daughter or relative if they haven’t worked for the party for five years. This means newcomers will not be allowed to contest elections.
Discussions in the committee on youth issues revolved around unemployment, exam question leaks, delays in appointment after recruitment exams, and the BJP’s undiminished appeal among the young, who the Congress feels have been misled via social media platforms.
Most of the speakers wondered how the BJP was attracting larger numbers of the youth despite the government’s poor record in the education sector and in job creation. Many rued that the youth, who should have degrees and appointment letters in their hands, were being given sticks, swords and a high dose of hatred.
While radical suggestions like a right to employment were floated, some suggested that the Congress cannot attract the youth by offering only a political agenda and must offer a comprehensive new deal.
Amid the talk of 50 per cent reservation for the young, there are murmurs about Sachin Pilot posters being removed from the venue's neighbourhood by Ashok Gehlot supporters.