Congress likely to come up with revival blueprint by March

New Delhi: A blueprint for revival of Congress is expected to be ready by March with Sonia Gandhi asking state unit chiefs to seek views of grass-roots workers on how to turn around the party's fortunes.

After Rahul Gandhi's directive to party general secretaries to get feedback from district and block levels, the Congress president has formally written to them as well state chiefs asking them to seek the views and submit a report to her by February end, sources said.

An AICC meeting is likely in March to take up these suggestions, which will also be compiled in a book form, they
said.

The missive sent by her to the AICC general secretaries, secretaries and PCC chiefs almost a week ago comes after a
marathon meeting Congress Vice President Rahul held with the party leaders here on December 24 in which he asked them to replicate his model of discussions with state leaders to the districts and blocks and send them a report after two months.

Sonia's letter also asks the PCC chiefs to send their feedback by February end after consulting party workers "how
to revive and resurrect" the Congress, the sources said.

The missive is significant as the states have been asked to give their feedback before the leadership has planned to
hold the annual AICC meeting in March, where the feedback could pave way for an action plan.

The party also plans to come out with a compilation of the suggestions received from the grass roots in a booklet
form. Grappling to arrest the party's sliding base, Rahul has reached out to the bottom rung of party workers holding
regular interactions with them in groups for last more than two-three months after the debacle of Congress in Lok Sabha polls.

After his direct interaction with more than 400 leaders from all states, Rahul told the general secretaries in a
separate meeting to get feedback from blocks and districts and come back to him with suggestion on how to strengthen the party at the grass roots and make a turn around.

Issues like how to widen the party's reach, what should Congress organisation look like and whether any changes are
required, and how to push the core ideology of Congress among people and convey to the cadres with clarity have been
discussed in these meetings.

In a number of group meetings that Rahul held, leaders said that the party needs to regain its hold of liberal Hindu
votes as impression was created that Congress was only talking of minorities and is not bothered about Hindu votes, which benefited BJP.

A section in the party believes that the party's secularism plank was stretched to the extent that it started looking like advocating minoritism and the perception needs to be corrected.

The view is that the upper caste Hindus especially Brahmins, who were traditional voters of Congress shifted en bloc to BJP in the last Lok Sabha polls while the party has lost out on Dalit and OBC votes with the rise of caste politics especially in the Hindi heartland.

All these issues have come up in discussions on the ideological challenges before Congress and the leadership is
keen to get the views of grass-roots workers on them.

One of the issues on which Rahul is particularly focused is how to widen the party's reach and connect with NGOs,
employees' unions and other bodies.

There is also a buzz that Rahul could undertake a padyatra as early as this month to revive the party fortunes.

AICC general secretary (Organisation) Janardan Dwivedi, however, downplayed a question on it saying "you will be
informed whenever any such thing happens." After handing over a crushing defeat to Congress in Lok Sabha polls, BJP has humbled it in assembly elections in Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand and Jammu Kashmir.

While Congress was in power in Haryana on its own, it was in the ruling coalition in Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Jammu
and Kashmir.

There is a view in the party that since the next general elections will be held five years from now, it is time for the party to focus on its organisation in the states.

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