It's Shashi Tharoor vs Mallikarjun Kharge in the race for Congress president. Though Tharoor's chances may have taken a hit with Kharge's entry, his manifesto urges voters to think for the future of the Congress.
With a tagline “Think Tomorrow Think Tharoor”, the Thiruvananthapuram MP listed ten tenets for 'revitalising' the Congress. Here are some of the key highlights of Tharoor's manifesto:
Bring in fresh faces: The manifesto calls for the Congress to rejuvenate itself by bringing in 'fresh faces and young blood'. “A revived Congress is key to once again convincing young Indians that we understand their aspirations, and can be trusted,” it stated.
Decentralise: The manifesto stated that the Congress must give authority to PCC presidents and empower grassroots office-bearers of the party. “Re-imagining the organisation, 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,” it stated.
Reimagine role of AICC headquarters: The full-time president should be “accessible to all” and hold interactions with karyakartas twice a week, the manifesto stated. Appoint General Secretaries with thematic responsibilities who will curate and develop the party's vision, it stated. The manifesto also bats for maximum of two five-year terms for party president and other office bearers.
Inclusive India: “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,” it stated. The manifesto calls for the Congress to reiterate the core convictions of the party, and and constantly “affirm the principles of secularism”. “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,” the document read.
Revive consultative mechanism: The manifesto urged the Congress to strengthen consultative mechanisms within the party, “through a democratic and collective decision-making process at the national level”. It added: “End the perception that decision-making has been concentrated in the hands of a select few.” Besides encouraging democratic decision making, the manifesto pledges to implement the Udaipur Declaration of 'one person one post'.
Improve election management: In the manifesto, Tharoor bats for professional candidate selection meetings ahead of elections. “Candidates who lose two elections in a row will not be repeated for the same seat. Use technology and data management techniques to improve our election management.”
Focus on youth: The Congress must tap into the political potential of unemployed youth, youth-heavy workplaces like the IT sector, and migrant hotspots, the manifesto stated. It added: “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."
'Ladki hoon lad sakti hoon': The manifesto pushes for bigger role for women in the Congress—more positions for women in the PCCs and in the electoral fray and strengthen the All India Mahila Congress. “The party will work to pass the Women's Reservation Bill,” it stated.
Industry outreach: The manifesto stated that the Congress needs to bring clarity to the party's ownership of the liberalisation agenda. “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,” it stated, adding that there should be sustained efforts to revive the MSME sector.
Beyond politics for elections: 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,” it stated.