Youngsters will have proportionate representation in the Congress, the grand old party’s Rajasthan leader Sachin Pilot told NDTV during the party’s much-hyped brainstorming session in Udaipur. He said that the parliamentary board has made critical decisions on youth in the organisation and a blueprint and roadmap will emerge after the three-day conclave gets over. The 44-year-old former union minister, who in 2004 became the youngest MP in the country at the age of 26, said that over half of party leaders are below 50 years of age and this will be reflected in the selection of Chief Ministers as well.
Reiterating a need for “new and fresh energy”, Mr Pilot backed 51-year-old former party president Rahul Gandhi to take over the reins again.
Sources said that the conclave in Udaipur will focus on a time-bound and action-oriented reform process within the party. A key demand of a parliamentary board to enhance collective decision making is also being accepted.
According to the party sources, some of the reforms which will likely be part of the declaration once the Chintan Shivir concludes, include reserving half of the party posts for those under 50, an active parliamentary board and the “one family, one ticket” formula. Congress is also planning to fix a maximum five-year tenure for the organisational positions, with a cooling-off period of three years.
Around 400 leaders, including Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, are attending the Chintan Shivir called in the aftermath of the party’s five-state debacle in recent elections. “Big changes” are in store, Congress leader Ajay Maken had said during the start of the conclave.
The Congress said there was unanimity on bringing back the “One Family, One Ticket” rule, which bars more than one person from a family from contesting elections, but hinted in advance that the Gandhis would be spared.
“There is unanimity on this rule. If family members still want to contest them they should have been active for five years,” said Congress leader Ajay Maken. Asked what it meant for the Gandhis, he replied: “One family, one ticket I have already said. Anyone who wants to contest should have worked in the party for at least five years.”
The rider to the rule, which leaves all three Gandhis eligible to contest, signals a loophole that reinforces critics’ views that the party will attempt no more than cosmetic changes at a time there are calls for a big overhaul.