The Congress Working Committee on Sunday approved a “one family, one ticket” rule with riders along with other organisational reforms to prepare the party for the next round of Assembly and Lok Sabha polls, PTI reported.

At its Chintan Shivir (introspection meeting) in Rajasthan’s Udaipur, the Congress said that under the “one family, one ticket” rule, a waiver will apply for a second family member who has worked in the party for at least five years. This makes Congress working president Sonia Gandhi along with her children, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, eligible to contest polls.

To give opportunities to other candidates, the Congress top decision making body on Sunday decided that no person can hold a party position for over five years. The party also promised to give 50% reservation to those below 50 years of age at all levels.

Three new departments public insight, election management and national training will also be set up to bring about organisational changes, PTI reported.

Sonia Gandhi also approved a proposal to form a political advisory group from members of the Congress Working Committee to address problems. The group will not be a decision making body, but the party would benefit from the vast experience of senior leaders, the Congress said. The composition of the task force will be notified within three days.

Sonia Gandhi announces ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’

Meanwhile, on the concluding day of the three-day Chintan Shivir, Sonia Gandhi announced a public outreach initiative called the “Bharat Jodo Yatra” (Unite India March). The party has planned to launch it from Kanyakumari to Kashmir on Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary on October 2.

“The yatra is to strengthen the bonds of social harmony that are under stress, to preserve the foundational values of our Constitution that are under assault and to highlight the day-to-day concerns of crores of our people,” Gandhi said, according to PTI.

The party will also launch the second phase of the district-level “Jan Jagran Abhiyan” or the mass agitation programme from June 15. The campaign will highlight economic problems, growing unemployment and inflation in the country.

At the Chintan Shivir, Gandhi told party members that a task force will be set up for internal reforms.

“I have also decided to have an advisory group drawn from the Congress Working Committee that would meet regularly under my chairpersonship to discuss and deliberate upon political issues and challenges before our party,” she added. “We will undoubtedly leave re-energised with a refreshed spirit of collective purpose.”

Rahul Gandhi says connection with people broken

Rahul Gandhi, the former Congress chief, acknowledged that the party’s connection with the people has been broken, PTI reported.

“Our fight is for ideology,” he told members. “We have to go to the people and sit with them, the connection the party had with people has to be re-established.”

Gandhi added that there is no shortcut to re-connect with the citizens and stressed that the Bharat Jodo Yatra will help.

He said that the party has always provided a platform to hold discussions without any fear. “The only alternative to a conversation between the people of India is violence between people of India,” he said, according to PTI.

Gandhi also alleged that systematic destruction of various institutions in India was underway and there is fear that the country’s demographic dividend will turn into a demographic disaster, PTI reported. He held the Bharatiya Janata Party responsible for this.

The Chintan Shivir came in the backdrop of the party’s dismal performance in the 2022 Assembly polls in five states – Goa, Manipur, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. It lost Punjab to the Aam Aadmi Party and failed to wrest power from the Bharatiya Janata Party in Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur.

The Congress has also been facing resistance from members of the Group of 23, or G-23, which comprises Congress leaders who have been seeking an organisational overhaul in the party since 2020.

Days before the Chintan Shivir, Congress President Sonia Gandhi had said that the party needs self-criticism but not in a manner that erodes morale and creates an atmosphere of “gloom and doom”.