With the victory over FDI in retail in Parliament firmly under its belt, the Congress-led UPA is now gearing up for the party’s all important ‘Chintan Shivir’ (brainstorming camp) next month.
The ‘shivir’ which is only the third one to be ever held, is slated for 18 and 19 January at Jaipur.
The Congress President Sonia Gandhi has this week itself appointed a committee chaired by senior party functionary Motilal Vora with former minister Ambika Soni as convenor.
“It will be RG’s ( Rahul Gandhi) vision and theme that will be displayed at Jaipur”, said a senior Congress leader. This is in keeping with Rahul Gandhi’s growing stature within the organisation. He has been appointed the head of the election coordination committee for the general elections 2014.
The session which will see all party functionaries including state PCC chiefs, general secretaries and senior leaders in attendance, is likely to lay out the roadmap for elections 2014. Also on the cards are plans to re-draw the party’s strategy depending on its performance in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat Assembly elections. The session which will also be the forum where the party’s manifesto for 2014 will be fleshed out, say party sources.
With just about a month to go before the shivir, all eyes are now on the committee that is in charge of organising the session.
The ministers to figure in this committee include Defence minister AK Antony, Finance minister P Chidambaram and Rural Development minister Jairam Ramesh and Health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad. Barring Chidambaram, all other ministers have perennially been involved in party work; Chidambaram's inclusion is an indication of his growing clout and involvement in organisational affairs of late.
The other party functionaries who are members of this committee include Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel and senior leaders Janardan Dwivedi, Digvijaya Singh and Oscar Fernandes.
The much talked about AICC reshuffle, sources now inform, which is likely to take place in the run up to the shivir, will only be to the extent of appointing new General Secretaries incharge of states.
“As it is Rahul Gandhi is for all practical purposes No 2 in the party. There is no need for an official designation appointing him as such," said a senior party leader. Infact, it will be his vision which will be the vision and guide the ‘Chintan Shivir’. The junior Gandhi’s pet theme, has for long been ‘poverty alleviation’; the late Rajiv Gandhi’s had been empowerment.
The recently launched, direct cash transfer scheme will be one of the major schemes that will take centrestage at the session, as a gamechanger for the party in the runup to elections, Gandhi is reportedly very enthused about proper implementation of it.
The first ‘chintan shivir’ was held at Pachmarhi in Madhya Pradesh in 1998 soon after Sonia Gandhi took over as head of the party organisation. The second shivir was held at Shimla in 2003 which paved the way for the Congress coming to power at the Centre in May 2004.