Mission 2019: Congress to first strengthen itself into lean fighting unit

By Amit Agnihotri
For the next three months, the Congress will focus on reinforcing its organizational set up to emerge as the single largest party in the opposition camp in 2019.
“Party first, alliances later,” says a Congress insider, and points out that the entire focus over the next four months would be to cover organizational gaps, which would determine how many seats the Grand Old Party can win in the next Lok Sabha. This will enable it to play the anchor of the anti-Modi front and lay claims on the PM post.
Project Shakti, an IT-based platform, is taking care of spreading the booth-level teams, something which the party failed to do since losing power in 2019. “This plan has now covered most of the states and will help us immensely in managing the polls,” says a senior party leader working closely with Congress chief Rahul Gandhi.
Besides dedicated booth-level teams, an idea borrowed from the BJP, another attempt is being made to connect with the voters through a revamped Sewa Dal, which was mostly involved in flag hoisting at party offices on Independence and Republic Days.
Congress insiders acknowledge that the party’s presence has shrunk across India in big states like UP, Bihar, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Madhya Pradesh and mobilizing support will not be easy with functional teams on the ground.
“A weak organization is one reason why we are looking at alliances in UP and Bihar, which together send 120 members to the Lok Sabha. But there is no escape from the situation in the long run,” says a senior AICC functionary.
Already, Rahul has inducted several younger leaders as AICC secretary in-charge of states and asked them to travel extensively to pep up the local leaders. “This way, we also get to know of their problems and are able to iron out any factional fights which can hurt us,” says an AICC secretary.
Alongside, state units are directed to identify and to reach out to traditional Congress families who went into hibernation after regional parties started calling the shots.“The issue of strengthening organization has been overlooked in the past decades, but we need to quickly cover the lost ground if we want to be counted in 2019,” a Congress veteran comments on the changes happening in the party. “If we emerge strong, we can negotiate alliances from a position of strength.”

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