National Politics

“Progress With Congress”; Here’s Shashi Tharoor’s Plan To Revitalise The GOP

Shashi Tharoor

The Presidential election of the Indian National Congress has been all over the news for the last few days for several reasons. Be it the brief rebellion by MLAs in Rajasthan supported by CM Gehlot, his exit from the race for President, Digvijay Singh’s entry into the race and subsequent exit, and now Mallikarjun Kharge filing the nomination, the Congress seems to have succeeded in creating a hype and curiosity even around its organisational election. However, there’s one name apart from the aforementioned ones that has stood out, and that is of Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor. Tharoor, since he vowed to join the race, has not flinched away from his decision amid the drama, and filed his nomination for the top post today.

After filing his nomination, Shashi Tharoor not only addressed the press chaste Hindi, but also released a ‘manifesto’ for reviving the grand old party weakened by two successive defeats in General Elections.

Though there is uncertainty regarding Tharoor’s election to the top post, and Kharge seems to be much ahead in the race with support of Gandhi family and other senior leaders, it will be unfair on the part of Tharoor if we don’t even discuss what he’s pitching.

In this article, let us take a look at what Shashi Tharoor’s manifesto for the Presidential election talks about.

The manifesto, which starts with the GOP symbol and slogan- “Progress with Congress”, essentially talks about 10 things that Tharoor will focus on. Named as ‘Tharoor’s Ten Tenets’, these 10 points are as follows:

  1. Embrace a Process Of Rejuvenation

Tharoor, in a bid to ‘Revitalize the Congress’, proposes to bring in fresh faces and young blood in the party’s organisational structure.

“The Congress must rejuvenate itself, particularly by bringing in fresh faces and young blood into its leadership at all levels – village, block, district and state as well as national. A revived Congress is key to once again convincing young Indians that we understand their aspirations and can be trusted to promote them in government. At the same time, respect the efforts and sacrifices of long-time party workers by rewarding them suitably with appointments and authority,” Tharoor says in the first of the ten tenets.

2. Decentralize the Organisation

“Every party needs leadership, but at all levels and not just at the top,” says Tharoor, which could be seen as an apparent jibe not only at the Gandhi family, but also at the ‘coterie’ culture in the Congress.

“The Congress must empower the party in the states by giving real authority to the PCC Presidents, decentralize authority and truly empower the grassroots office-bearers of the party. We must provide a credible alternative to the BJP’s centralization of authority in its party affairs and in the affairs of governance. Re-imagining the organization, delegating powers to state, district and block leaders and empowering grassroots workers will not only free the new leader from the onerous burdens of over administration, but help create the strong state leadership that in past eras strengthened the Congress’ national appeal,” says the second tenet of Tharoor.

3. Reimagine the Role of AICC Headquarters

The Thiruvananthapuram MP highlights the need for “a full-time President who is accessible to all”.

“Congress must have a full-time President who is accessible to all and holds regular interactions for karyakartas twice a week where any party worker can be heard. The President should also hold quarterly meetings with AICC departments and frontals.: Support the President with five Vice-Presidents from, and broadly responsible for, five regions of the country. Appoint General Secretaries with thematic responsibilities who will curate and develop the party’s vision and policies for the major challenges facing India and the world. Reduce the number of state-level office-bearers who require ratification from Headquarters. The Working Committee should meet monthly and plenary AICC sessions be held every five years. The Party President and other office-bearers should be limited to two five-year terms,”  says the third Tenet.

4. Reiterate the Core Convictions of the Party

In this tenet, Tharoor proposes to return back to core principles of the party like inclusivity, equality and secularism.

“The Indian National Congress stands for “Inclusive India”, a land that lives up to the Constitution’s promise of liberty, fraternity and justice for all, irrespective of religion, region, language or gender. While honouring India’s rich cultural and spiritual traditions going back millennia, we will constantly affirm the principles of secularism and respect for India’s diversity and pluralism. We will support civil liberties, including freedom of expression and the press, and support to citizen’s right to privacy, keeping the government out of the kitchen and the bedroom. As Mahatma Gandhi taught us, we will offer a haven for the poor, the marginalised and the disenfranchised, and fight for social justice, with special attention to the problems of women, SC/ST communities, and minorities. We will support economic growth, a robust national security posture, and an energetic and confident foreign policy, in keeping with the rich legacy of Jawaharlal Nehru,” mentions the 4th tenet of Tharoor.

5. Broaden Participation in the Party

Tharoor, in order to end the perception that decision-making has been concentrated in the hands of a select few, says: “We must revive and strengthen consultative mechanisms within the Congress through a democratic and collective decision-making process at the national level (which would involve reviving the Parliamentary Board provided for in the party Constitution as well as elections to 12 seats in a 23-member Congress Working Committee). End the perception that decision-making has been concentrated in the hands of a select few, which has limited the ability of many able colleagues to access and communicate with the top leadership. Institute a “shadow Cabinet” to challenge the government daily. Hold regular policy discussions to constantly update the party’s positions and stands on urgent issues. Encourage democratic decision making at all levels. Pledge to implement the Udaipur Declaration of 2022, including the “one person one post” rule, term limits for party positions (normally two terms in any party post) to permit renewal of energies, 50% tickets for those under 50, and increased representation for women, youth, SC/ST/OBCs and minorities in party positions.”

6. Reinvigorate Election Management 

Proposing ideas to make the party’s election machinery more efficient, the 6th tenet suggests: “Introduce professional techniques including candidate selection meetings. Nominate candidates at least three months before elections are due to give them time to introduce themselves to the electorate. Candidates who lose two elections in a row will not be repeated for the same seat. Term limits will not apply to consistently successful elected incumbents. Use technology and data management techniques to improve our election management.”

7. Increased Focus on Youth 

Tharoor’s manifesto has given a great importance to youth and its issues. In the 7th tenet, Tharoor says: “For the Congress to start winning again, it should appeal to the large untapped political potential of unemployed youth, youth-heavy workplaces (notably the IT sector) and migrant hotspots. To take back the technocratic leadership of the nation, Congress has a large role to play via job fairs, skilling expos, and developing industry collaborations. NSUI and IYC have a critical role to play beyond the good work being done by these frontals in organising large nationwide movements and mass protests. To strengthen their capacity, we need to embark on a meaningful revamp to make these and other Congress frontal organisations like Seva Dal our focus of attention for youth issues. Young Indians must believe we understand their aspirations and can be trusted to promote them in government.”

8. Bigger Role for Women

” The Congress will support leadership by women, for women, in keeping wi 9 “Ladki hoon, lad sakti hoon” principle. Women will be encouraged to take up issues that actually matter to women in our society. More positions for women should be reserved in PCCs and in the electoral fray. The party will work to pass the Women’s Reservation Bill. In these efforts, the role and capacity of All India Mahila Congress will be strengthened,” Tharoor says in his 8th tenet.

9. Outreach to Industry and Professionals 

Tharoor, who also happens to be the chairperson of All India Professional’s Congress (AIPC), highlights the need to reach out to corporate, businesses and professionals.

” Bring clarity to the Congress’ party’s ownership of the liberalization agenda and our support for business and industry. Embrace wealth creation and employment generation in the private sector while insisting on distributing the revenues thus created to the poor and marginal sections of society. Reaffirm the Congress’ history as the party of professionals by strengthening outreach to professional bodies and involving professionals systematically in all activities of the party, including manifesto preparation. Make a sustained effort to revive the MSME sector and provide it sustained assistance to become productive and integrated in domestic and global supply chains. India’s jobs problem cannot be addressed without a robust MSME sector,” says the 9th tenet of Tharoor.

10. Return to Ethos of Politics as Social Worker

“The Congress party should not merely be seen as an instrument for fighting elections every few years. There is a great deal that it can and must do between elections, helping citizens in their interactions with the government, the police, and the unfeeling petty bureaucracy they have to confront daily. The mission of the Indian National Congress is to return to the ethos of politics as social work for those who cannot help themselves,” says the final tenet of Tharoor’s Ten Tenets.



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