Udaipur Chintan Shivir: How the Congress brass do ‘Chintan’ at Udaipur

At the beginning of the Udaipur Chintan Shivir of the Congress Party, a clear-cut message was read out to the 400-odd delegates from the podium. That each of them would reassemble in six separate groups of about 70 each members for their respective closed door discussions on the specifically allotted six different subjects. They should deposit their mobile phones in lockers kept outside each of the six halls and collect them back only after the discussions of each sitting were officially over.
And this was a message for both the delegates and the media persons at the nearby Media Centre. That the Chintan Shivar is not meant for informal exchanges of information, but designed strictly as business-like closed door discussions of strictly internal strategies for that elusive revamp of the party. While that may be a ground rule, there are always ways the media get around such experiments even as the organisers ensure some press conference in between to dish out official statements.

This marks the difference between the Shivir and AICC sessions Рwhich are always attended by about 8000 delegates and the venue kept open to the media for the speeches that scores of leaders make with an eye on the larger gallery. The Udaipur Shivar, like its earlier three editions in Pachmarhi (1998), Shima (2003) and Jaipur (2013), is following what it is: internal chintan about the way forward and about giving the grand old party’s monolithic organisation at least a window dressing to make it look younger and up-to-date to the latest demands of politics, ready afresh to face the daunting tasks it is confronted with.
While it remains to be seen how these efforts pan out, as of now these six groups off Congress delegates are supposed to be engaged in ‘collective brainstorming” on six different subjects of Congress focus for refurbishing its strategies and outlook – politics, organization, economics, farmers-agrarian issues, youth matters and social empowerment concerns.

By Sunday evening, a consolidated ‘Udaipur Declaration’, called “Nav Sankalp” (New Resolves) will be framed, and after clearance by the CWC, released to the public at a concluding session where top leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul will speak. To see how this ‘Nav Sankalp’ will work for the Congress, one has to wait for the outcome of the party’s upcoming electoral battles against the BJP and many competing regional parties.

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