Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has begun talks with senior leaders within the party to set up an advisory committee that will deliberate specifically on public policies.
Ever since he entered electoral politics in 2004 and subsequently assumed a series of organisational positions, Gandhi has shown a penchant for public policies, at times even over political manoeuvres.
Despite the risk of sounding repetitive, Gandhi talks more about social sector initiatives and landmark legislations such as the Right to Information, Food for all or Forest rights act, etc., in his public speeches.
In internal meetings, his aides say Gandhi often mentions Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar — even when they were rivals — and how remarkable certain policies of his are.
So, it may not have surprised many when he started working out the possibilities of forming an advisory body.
The move comes amid a growing clamour for an organisational reshuffle within the party and Rahul’s elevation to the top post to succeed party president, Sonia Gandhi. There is, however, no clarity on when the much-awaited reshuffle will take place.
Sources close to Gandhi told Hindustan Times that the leader has already sounded out a few senior leaders. “Whether it will happen or not, is not clear. But he has spoken about the need for such a body in close quarters and started initial discussions with a few Congress leaders.”
“Senior members who have a wide range of experience in public policy and lawmaking will be part of the council. If it is formed, Congress president Sonia Gandhi is likely to head it,” said a leader.
Apart from party insiders, the mechanism may be built to invite experts from outside to give their inputs on different issues.
“There is no provision in the Congress for having a core committee, but there is one. The President is supreme. If she decides on a NAC-like body to steer the party’s response to policies, it can be done without a hitch,” said a senior Congress leader considered close to the party VP.
A section of the party feels that such a body can actually be helpful for the Congress and can also balance the power equations between the old guard and the young lot. While many of the old warhorses of the Congress may be invited to be a part of the think tank, they would certainly not be sidelined in the party. Younger leaders, instead, could be asked to take on extra responsibilities which may require extra hours and frequent travels. But in effect, deliberations and advice from senior members will remain the Congress’ guiding force as it will also help the party set its goals and agenda.