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Congress turns to Blair model for reviving itself
Sunil Gatade in New Delhi | January 13, 2008 17:32 IST
He might be a thing of the past in British politics, but former prime minister Tony Blair [Images] is now hot commodity in the Congress.
The Blair model, used to turn the Labour Party's flagging fortunes around in Britain over a decade back, has come in handy for India's grand old party, which is in search of a winning formula after successive electoral defeats including in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.
Congress is discussing ways and means on achieving a turnaround for the 123-year old organisation, which is gradually losing its political space. And time is of the essence, as ten assembly polls are lined up during the current year, followed by the Lok Sabha polls next year.
Rahul Gandhi [Images] is a member of the high level All India Congress Committee Group on Future Challenges that will look into the issue of reviving and revitalising the party.
Senior leader M Veerappa Moily, who is heading the group, says that the way Blair effected a spectacular turnaround of the Labour Party into New Labour over a decade back, was being analysed.
Lessons are also being drawn in the exercise from the examples of democratic organisations all around the world which made it big, he said, adding that the report of the group would be ready soon.
The late V N Gadgil, who was one of the ideologues of the party, had suggested years back that the Blair model needed to be studied deeply. Those were the days when the Congress was in political wilderness at the Centre for a record eight long years.
Sonia Gandhi's [Images] candid statement during the recent AICC meeting that "Rahul and I do not have a magic wand" was to drive home the point that party workers will have to go the extra mile in the changed scenario.
The Congress has ruled the country for most part of the 60 years since independence but has failed to get majority on its own since 1984.
Currently, the only major state where Congress is ruling on its own is Andhra Pradesh.
Another leader says that changes in the party would be visible sooner than later, amid refrain in the AICC that it cannot afford a defeat in Karnataka, where assembly polls are due by May.
Besides the report of the group, the leader says that Gandhi has been given inputs on the organisational issue by several others in the party and outside.
The emphasis is on ensuring quick decision making in an era of coalitions where the USP of regional parties was to grab the political space by smart footwork
The year 2007 was a bad year for Congress as it lost Punjab and Uttarakhand, made a poor show in politically key Uttar Pradesh and the climax came in Narendra Modi [Images] making mincemeat of its challenge in Gujarat.
There have been several states where an effective organisation is not in place and an ad-hoc arrangement exists for several years. Factionalism is the order of the day in several states.
Madhya Pradesh, which will have Assembly polls later this year, only has a nominated Pradesh Congress Committee president, who is functioning without an executive or office bearers for the past three years.
There have been no District Congress Committees in some states while they are in a defunct state in some others.
An AICC general secretary insists that what the party needs is influential regional leaders which would help the leadership to spread the organisation effectively.
Fears are also being voiced in a section of the party that moneybags could play havoc if the internal elections are held without proper monitoring by the leadership.