Some policies we agree with the UF government
and some we differ with them. So we need a well defined economic policy.
We will also discuss how to strengthen our electoral
base, especially the backward classes which have kept a distance from the Congress
party and how to bring them back to the fold. How should we get
the support of the youth? Why are our youth disenchanted? How can we bring
them to our party?
We would also like to discuss how to strengthen the party at the district and
village levels and reactivate Congress workers. How can we change the party structure
so that people can interact with senior leaders?
Finally, we will discuss foreign policy -- co-operation with neighbours under the changing
global economic perspective.
This convention will be similar to the camp held at Narora, Uttar Pradesh, when Indira Gandhi
was Congress leader. Can you recall for our readers what that camp was all about?
The Narora camp was organised in February 1973. Nearly
200 Congress leaders assembled there. And it was decided
that similar camps would be organised at the state level all over India, to
reactivate party workers and educate them about
policies and programmes. Possibly this time, we will have the
same kind of approach.
What was the response then? And how did it help the Congress
The response was very good and it helped the party understand
the problems of party workers all over the country. We debated the party's resolutions.
Every member had enough time to speak. It was very helpful to understand the
overall performance of the party.
Where will this year's camp be held?
Certainly not in any of the cities. It will be held in
some village, distant from the cities so that the
participants are not disturbed. They
must get time exclusively for this camp.
P V Narasimha Rao also had plans to hold such a camp
Why did that not take off?
When Rao was elected as party leader, he decided to hold this
kind of camp. He had planned to hold it in Bhopal. I don't know why it did
not take off.
Do you think it was a mistake not to have organised such a camp earlier?
If we had held the camp we would have done better in the
Why has the Congress lost its appeal among the people?
The answer to this question will be discussed at the camp.
Everyone in the Congress is also wondering why the party has been relegated
to this position. The Congress party's strength has come down to
147 members in Parliament. Never in the party's history have we
faced such a position. This is what we have to analyse at the camp. Have we
committed errors in economic policies? How do we appeal to all sections of
Do you think the Congress lacks charismatic leaders like Indira
Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi?
Not exactly. But it is possible that a charismatic leader may
be one of the reasons for the party's present condition. But that is not the only
reason. Even in Rajiv's time we lost elections. We lost Gujarat in 1975, we barely
came to power in the 1974 Uttar Pradesh assembly election. Of course, Indiraji
and Rajiv were charismatic leaders.
The Congress does not have any charismatic leaders
now. But you cannot have charismatic leaders forever in your party. No party can survive by
the shine of one charismatic leader forever.
In many villages people used to vote for the Congress party by thinking
of Indiraji and Rajiv Gandhi. But the political system in India
has changed. Today, no party in India has a charismatic leader. In fact, today in India,
we do not have any leader who is of national stature.
What about Atal Bihari Vajpayee?
Yes, to some extent. But not everywhere.
In your opinion, how far has the the liberalisation of the economy
affected the party?
Liberalisation as such has not affected the party. I feel in
the world context you cannot be isolated. Therefore, liberalisation to some extent
is a must. But not at the cost of people. Not at the cost of affecting small and medium sectors
which employs hundreds and thousands of
people. Liberalisation is a must, but not at cost of people's jobs.