Congress’ brainstorming history: A peek into the party’s previous ‘Chintan Shivirs’
Congress’ brainstorming conclave, Chintan Shivir, will start today in the lake city of Udaipur in Rajasthan. The primary aim of the three-day conclave is to come up with a robust action plan for the party to find a new way forward.
“The Congress will introspect, contemplate and reflect upon the way forward, and new milestones to be traversed at the Chintan Shivir session,” said the party’s general secretary Randeep Surjewala.
Nearly 500 delegates will be divided into groups of 70 members each, and they will brainstorm on subjects, including social justice and empowerment, politics, organisation, economy, farmers and youth. They will present their reports after the session to the Congress Working Committee (CWC) on May 15.
The session will begin with a welcome speech by Congress president Sonia Gandhi and conclude with a valedictory address by Rahul Gandhi. However, this is not the first time such conclaves have been organised under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi. The party organised three other sessions since 1998.
The first Chintan Shivir was organised in Madhya Pradesh’s Pachmarhi under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi soon after she was anointed as the party president. Congress back then too faced similar challenges.
The session concluded with Congress not ceding its turf to alliance parties for short-term political gains. The party decided it did not need the alliance to win elections, and was confident that they will survive on its leaders’ charisma.
Five years later, Congress realised the importance of having an alliance. They decided to follow the path of a coalition system of “progressive thinking men and women, institutions and political movements who share our understanding of India’s past, our concerns with India’s present and our vision of India’s future to join us in this historic endeavour”.
The 2003 Shivir helped Congress remain in power for a decade. The party devised a rights-based governance model that included MGNREGA, food security, social and economic empowerment and RTE.
The party felt the need for another round of brainstorming sessions ahead of the 2014 general elections. This session was marked by Rahul Gandhi’s formal elevation as the party vice-president. For the first time, the Shivir was attended by the party’s youth wing – National Students’ Union of India and Indian Youth Congress.
The party even prepared a blueprint for the 2014 general elections, but nothing really translated into electoral politics under the Modi wave.