As many of its committees, departments and cells have gone defunct over time, the Congress is now mulling a professional think tank to address organisational weaknesses and bring about intra-party reforms.
The proposal, mooted by Congress president Sonia Gandhi at the Burari plenary recently, would be given shape at the forthcoming Chintan Shivir (brainstorming session) where the party will reassess its position on critical issues.
Apart from periodic introspection into functioning of the organisation, Gandhi also called for greater interaction with civil society and professional experts to make the party “more than a giant election machine”.
The think tank would be run on institutional lines.
At present, many committees, departments and cells of the party exist only on paper.
A senior party functionary told HT that Vichar Vibhag (intellectual cell) has been non-functional for many years now.
Similarly, Rajiv Gandhi Panchayati Raj Sangathan, Kisan and Khet Mazdoor Congress, department of policy, planning and coordination, research and reference department besides ST and OBC departments rarely meet.
Then there are panels such as manifesto committee and publicity and publication committee that become functional during elections only.
Similarly, the fate of existing party think tank, Group to Look into Future Challenges, that also has Rahul Gandhi as its member, is not clear. The group has not met for several months.
The party is also lagging on the training front. At the party’s last Chintan Shivir in 2003 in Shimla, Gandhi had made a formal announcement of setting up a training academy. But the proposal is yet to take off.
This is completely in contrast with the party’s youth wing. After Rahul Gandhi was given the charge of the Youth Congress and the National Students Union of India, the two vital wings of the party have seen rapid progress.