In an attempt to stem the infighting in its state units, the Congress has come up with a novel idea to keep the warring factions in good humour.
The continued slide since the Lok Sabha elections last year has forced the party to take steps to bring about cohesion in its units, especially in states going to polls.
According to the new formula likely to be tested first in Bihar where the assembly elections are due later this year, the party will segregate the responsibilities and involve everybody in decision making on organisational matters. In states where there is strong rebellion against the PCC chiefs, the party will hand over the election management to the rebel groups.
The PCC chiefs will primarily look after the organisational affairs though this does not bar them from pitching for their candidates in ticket distribution. The move is bound to undermine the PCC chief’s authority but according to Congress sources, the idea is to maintain balance of power in states and not allow the rebel factor to dent the party’s electoral prospects.
To ensure that the entire process is not completely taken over by one faction, the election management will be closely monitored by the central leadership. “It will ensure that dissidents are not engaged in activities that eventually lead to the party’s defeat in elections,” a senior functionary said.
In recent years, factionalism has cost the Congress dear in many states where it is struggling for revival and has even affected governance in party-ruled states. If successful, the move will be replicated in other states such as Punjab where intense bickering among senior leaders has put the party on the defensive at a time when the ruling Akali Dal-BJP combine is facing heat on several issues, mainly drug menace and land acquisition ordinance.
If the Congress leadership fails to check dissidence, the party’s electoral prospects in 2017 could see a repeat of 2012 when the Akali Dal-BJP created history by returning to power in the state that had, in all the previous elections, thrown out the incumbent government.