All India Congress Committee (AICC) vice-president Rahul Gandhi's plan to do away with the old system of nominations to party posts may not materialise in the near future as a majority of Congressmen are not in favour of elections to these positions at different levels in the outfit and prefer to continue with selections.
This viewpoint emerged very strongly in the four regional workshops held by Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) in Amritsar, Khanna, Bathinda and Jalandhar in April.
The workshop in Khanna was attended by Gandhi, the architect of these meetings, to get feedback from party colleagues on ways and means to strengthen the Congress in Punjab ahead of the next Lok Sabha polls.
These workshops were attended by PPCC chief Partap Singh Bajwa and other senior leaders, including Harish Chaudhary, AICC general secretary in charge of Punjab affairs. District and block level leaders as well as those of the Punjab Youth Congress (PYC) also attended the workshops in their respective regions.
In fact, Gandhi chose Punjab for launching these workshops and getting to know the minds of his partymen on organisational matters. A couple of years back, he had chosen the border state for holding the first-ever organisational elections to the state Youth Congress.
A consensus emerging from these workshops was that the Congress should continue with the nomination process in the PPCC for the time-being. That implies that the AICC appoints the PPCC chief and also fills in other key posts through nominations. Likewise, the PPCC nominates district presidents and other office-bearers. The process of nominations at the block levels was also favoured.
"There was a feeling among senior as well as district and block level leaders that the nomination process should continue as the environment in Punjab was not conducive to holding of intra-party elections. It was felt that elections at different levels would only divide the party and lead to ill-will among leaders," said a senior Congress leader to HT.
Gandhi analyses feedback
Gandhi personally analysed the feedback collected from these four workshops at a meeting held in Delhi last week. Besides PPCC chief Bajwa and Chaudhary, a number of other senior PPCC members, including four vice-presidents and some MPs, also attended this meeting and gave their views.
Each issue was discussed threadbare and everyone present at the meeting was free to air his or her views. The meeting lasted for a little over three hours.
Another issue that evolved emerged at the workshops was on limiting the influence of the kith and kin of senior leaders within the Congress. Through the feedback, the AICC vice-president got a message to restrict the kith and kin of senior leaders from monopolising party posts.
The age limit for holding top party posts in the PPCC was also discussed in the Delhi meeting on the basis of the feedback. It was felt that key posts should not go to persons above 70 years of age and that a 'young-looking' PPCC would be more effective than the one packed with veterans. The need to put a limit on the number of terms per person per post and the 'one-man, one-post' criterion was also taken up for discussion by Rahul Gandhi.
After certain Congress leaders complained they were ignored at the workshops, Gandhi made it clear that party work experience should be given weightage in filling posts. He also favoured introduction of a merit-based system, implying that hardwork and performance be recognised.
The Congress vice-president also made it clear that members of district and block Congress committees should be shown due respect by state leadership and should be consulted while chalking out programmes for their respective areas. He also favoured holding of DCC and BCC meetings every month.
The need for enforcing discipline at all levels in the party also formed part of the discussions with Gandhi.