In an effort to revamp its party’s image and improve its performance in elections, Congress is now seeking farmers, traders, artisans and students for its membership. These grassroots activists may help the party shed the notion that it is under established leaders and political families, according to the Indian Express. Sources from the Maharashtra Congress said that 50 per cent quota may be applied on positions in districts and block level Congress committee to attract candidates who are not politically active. Most of these positions are currently held by supporters of established politicians. Party sources said that this has led to factionalism. A senior party insider told IE, “The party appears to have lost connect with the masses. It needs to induct farmers, youngsters and hardcore activists to rekindle this connect.” After a debate about the issue between senior Congress leaders, the matter will go to the central high command. Central leadership favours the move and, if passed, this would turn out to be the biggest revamp of the party since its loss in the October 2014 Assembly elections where it won only 44 out of 288 seats.
The plan is for getting in young people and the party promises responsible, key roles for them. A senior Congress leader said that the party lacks good oratorical skills. “We need effective communicators to recapture the imagination of the masses,” the leader told the paper. The Maratha reservation unrest and farmers’ protest in Maharashtra witnessed leaders, who were not at the political forefront, getting mass recognition. Congress wants to tap this kind of talent, ahead of other parties.
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Such a radical step has been thwarted by a section of party leaders earlier. Mumbai’s Congress under the leadership of Sanjay Nirupam recently took in Hindu religious leaders, breaking away from tradition. It wants to show that it’s not a party that only appeased Muslims, according to IE. Some senior leaders have objected saying that this does not project the secular identity of the party.