I sent the following letter to Congress president Ms Sonia Gandhi.
To August 23, 2021
Ms Sonia Gandhi
The Indian National Congress (Congress)
New Delhi, India
Strategy for the Survival and Revival of Congress Party
Dear Ms Gandhi,
I am a national award-winning journalist and founder of the humanitarian organization RMN Foundation which is working in diverse areas to help the disadvantaged and distressed people in the society. These days, I am managing my own global news sites and run various education awareness, environment protection, and anti-corruption campaigns from Delhi.
Earlier, I had been associated with the United Nations (UN) through the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) as a digital media expert to help businesses use technology for brand marketing and business development.
As I have been actively observing and frequently writing about the debacle of the Congress party, I want to share some of my views that may help you resuscitate your party before it disappears from the Indian political landscape. In order to keep this communication simple, I will spread my thoughts over different topical areas which are briefly described below.
Selection of President
I presume that you will soon select or elect the president of the Congress party. Instead of using the traditional method of appointing a president, you should make the process competitive. After selecting a few aspirants based on an empirical criterion, you should allow them to participate in open debates on some of the burning topics in India.
The debates – on the lines of the U.S. primaries before the presidential elections – will be live-streamed for the Indian populace. A shortlist will be made depending on candidates’ performance in the debates and public feedback. All the shortlisted candidates will present their solutions to different socio-economic problems on their exclusive websites (instead of Twitter, Facebook, etc.) and allow the citizens to react to their thoughts.
Then registered Congress members will vote for the shortlisted candidates and the candidate with maximum number of votes will become the Congress president. This process of appointing the Congress president can be completed in about two months.
Instead of conferring all the powers on the party president, you should make a flat body of seven members who will have equal say in the decision-making process. The president will select other members who will be domain experts with proven credentials in their fields. They should hold weekly meetings in a transparent manner to take important decisions related to political, governance, and humanitarian activities.
The flat organization model can even be extended to states such as Punjab and Rajasthan where Congress rules. Instead of having a chief minister in these states, you should form a governing council comprising spotless politicians and domain experts. All the decisions in the state should be taken by the governing council while there will be no chief minister in these states.
In Punjab, for example, instead of naming the current Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh who has completely ruined Punjab or Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president Navjot Singh Sidhu as your chief ministerial candidate, you should select and project a seven-member governing council of honest domain experts who will manage the state affairs if Congress wins Punjab Assembly election in 2022.
The members of the governing council should be selected on the basis of their reputation and capability instead of their caste, color, creed or religion. People are fed up with the traditional politicians and archaic political systems.
Congress should contest all state as well as national elections by promoting this flat governance model led by honest politicians and domain experts in domains such as agriculture, economics, education, employment, finance, healthcare, law & order, mass communications, rural / urban development, and so on.
Instead of just criticizing the ruling regime, they should offer positive governance models to address different issues in these domains. Your focus must be on the empowerment of people by providing them good education instead of making them dependent on government dole. It will happen only when you weed out bureaucratic and political corruption from your party.
In order to ensure SMART (Simple, Moral, Accountable, Responsive, and Transparent) governance, Congress should publicly disclose the personal, performance, financial, and crime details of its Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs).
There is a likelihood that almost all the Congress lawmakers and top leaders are involved in criminal activities and have assets disproportionate to their known sources of income. You should remove all such tainted elements from your party.
Congress must understand that there is a need to carry out root and branch reforms because Congress works with the same corrupt practices, draconian policies, and communal tendencies that it denounces.
Today, media management is a major bottleneck in the Congress party, as all the Congress spokespersons including Randeep S. Surjewala, Pawan Khera, Gourav Vallabh, and female spokespersons are clueless about media communications. In their hateful urge to abuse prime minister (PM) Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), these so-called spokespersons fail to articulate their messaging accurately and end up delivering loose diatribes devoid of meaningful content. It appears that their only raison d’être is to criticize PM Modi and his party.
All Congress spokespersons – who scream in TV shows or hurl mindless tweets on Twitter – fail to sustain their messages and keep jumping erratically from one topic to another. That’s why the BJP often ignores or mocks the Congress party’s wordiness instead of addressing the issues raised by the largest opposition party in the country.
You should immediately get rid of this crop of unskilled spokespersons and appoint knowledgeable communicators who should be able to devise and deliver messages effectively among the target audience. They should be equally comfortable on traditional and new-media, digital platforms.
Social Media vs. Field Campaigns
Since Congress lacks talent, it believes in the mythical effect of social media without making any empirical analysis of its social media communications. Social media messaging is a delusive ballgame which cannot be effective to run political campaigns in a country where the majority of the voters are illiterate. Social media can only be used to supplement your field campaigns.
There is no substitute for field campaigns and street demonstrations. The Congress party must realize that tyrants fear noisy streets. Therefore, Congress must raise an army of field campaigners who should be ready to hold street protests around the clock in all parts of the country.
As Congress believes that Modi’s BJP has demolished all democratic institutions, the Congress workers must hold continuous protests outside complicit courts, jails, police stations, offices of election authorities, pliant media organizations, and so on. These Congress protesters should also be ready to get arrested, tortured, and imprisoned. In order to help protesters and truthful journalists, Congress should set up a robust legal cell which should provide instant pro bono services to them.
Ideally, Congress should delete all its Twitter and other social media accounts and only operate on the streets and let other media properties cover its field campaigns and protests against the despotic decisions of the government. Additionally, the Congress party should make a comprehensive interactive website to report about its field activities and plans to restore full democracy in the country. The new Congress website should also have its vision statements and solutions for the country’s mounting problems.
Removal of Dead Wood
There is a widespread perception that Congress is already a defunct outfit which is full of political parasites who have no acceptance among the people of the country. They remain cocooned in the comforts of their homes and release occasional tweets which hardly make any sense.
These Congress parasites are just waiting for some miracle that will defeat the Modi regime and crown them as next rulers in the country without any effort. Congress should immediately remove all such lethargic politicians from the party and rope in those who have fire in their belly.
A few lazy or unskilled politicians who need to be thrown out include Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Kapil Sibal, Mallikarjun Kharge, Manish Tewari, P. Chidambaram, Salman Khurshid, Shashi Tharoor, and dozens of others. Some of them have even been named in serious cases of crime and corruption. They should be given a safe passage to quit the party and those who still want to stay must be kept as relics in a museum without involving them in any decision-making exercise.
Congress should launch formal recruitment programs in all the states, districts, cities, and villages to select thousands of talented people who will spearhead the party activities in their areas. They should be given a clear career roadmap in the party so that they could contribute their services to the local citizens effectively and expand Congress network in every nook and corner of the country.
Congress should also try to compensate its workers financially by paying them honorariums. In order to earn money for these payments, Congress should hold regular fund-raising programs and set up sustainable enterprises in different villages and cities.
Sustainability of Campaigns
In the past, Congress has launched some major campaigns to highlight the crimes, corruption, and human rights violations by the government. These include the Rafale corruption scandal, autocratic demonetization decision, human rights violations in Kashmir, introduction of discriminatory citizenship laws, coronavirus mismanagement, contentious farm laws, and recent Pegasus spyware scandal.
However, after a few days, Congress stops pursuing its campaigns built around these issues. The main reason for this lackadaisical performance is that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi alone leads these campaigns mainly on Twitter. He does not go from Twitter to streets because it is not possible biologically for a man to continuously occupy the streets. As a result, instead of continuing a campaign and taking it to its logical end, Congress shifts to the next issue.
In order to ensure sustainability of each campaign, Congress should not depend only on Rahul Gandhi. Rather, you should identify a team of leaders in each state who can run different field campaigns regularly without leaving them midway.
Rahul Gandhi should also not be projected as a prime ministerial candidate in the 2024 Lok Sabha election. He should create a team of leaders all of whom are capable of becoming the PM of India. With this professional model of governance, Congress can contest all elections independently without joining hands with other opposition parties which are full of crooks. This is the right time for Congress to take such drastic decisions because currently Congress is so weak that it has nothing to lose.
These are some indicative suggestions that Congress can consider to begin the process of its renaissance. Depending on your response, I can elaborate each of these suggestions and more steps that Congress can take for its survival and revival.
Editor, RMN News Service [ Website ]
Founder, RMN Foundation [ Website ]
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