Ahead of the party’s chintan shivir in Jaipur next week, the Congress old guard are up in arms against what they call ‘corporatisation’ of this brainstorming session.
Many office-bearers, both at the Centre and in state units, coming to collect invitations at the AICC headquarters, have either been asked to submit a delegate fee and clear past dues, or are being told that their invitations stand cancelled to accommodate more youth from Rahul Gandhi’s brigade. A 92-year old Congress leader, who has headed a state unit twice, told DNA that he has been asked to submit a delegate fee and clear payments due to him over the last 15 years, before collecting his invitation letter. “It has become like a corporate summit where one has to pay a fee to attend a meeting,” he said.
At Rahul Gandhi’s direction, almost half the participants chosen for the brainstorming exercise are under the age of 45. Nearly 167 office-bearers of the Youth Congress and student wing, the National Students Union of India, are invited to attend the session.
Sources in the party said, Rahul Gandhi had asked district presidents of selected states, where the party is seeking a revival, to send at least one youth for the session. The conclave chairman, Motilal Vora, has been told to make sure invitees submit their delegate fee and that young invitees are given time slots for submitting out-of-the-box solutions for strengthening the party for the assembly elections, followed by the Lok Sabha elections in April-May next year.Vohra’s office is still stumped over how to drop the seniors from the list he had drawn up.
Sources say he has asked for an increase in the number of invitees from 300 to 350 to accommodate youth and senior leaders. He has also written to all invitees to convey their subject preferences, so they can be placed in different groups to be constituted to discuss the documents prepared by six panels to draw up the talking points.