How Congress is preparing local leadership for 2024 Lok Sabha race

More than the Congress party as a whole, the elections will be a do-or-die battle for the new leadership – especially for state president K Sudhakaran and Opposition Leader V D Satheesan. . Photo: Prashant Nandkar

Kochi: The two-day workshop held for the newly appointed block presidents of the Congress in Kerala concluded at Aluva in Ernakulam district on Tuesday. 

The camp was organised for the 139 block presidents from seven districts from Thiruvananthapuram to Ernakulam at the tranquil environs of the Santhigiri Ashram. That said, the party state unit has been going through tumultuous times of late. 

The workshop offered sessions by intellectuals with an ideological leaning towards the grand old party. However, the major takeaway from the two-day event for the local leaders was the practical lessons offered to them by the state leadership. The lessons included the need to be helpful in the community, adding people to the voters’ list and the relevance of micro-social engineering.

The reorganisation of the lower units of the party was much delayed with the change in the leadership in the aftermath of 2021 assembly poll rout resulting in a disruption of the long-held power structures and undeclared norms of functioning within the party. 

The appointment of the block presidents, who are supposed to work on the ground, comes a few months ahead of the 2024 general elections. More than the Congress party as a whole, the elections will be a do-or-die battle for the new leadership – especially for state president K Sudhakaran and Opposition Leader V D Satheesan. 

Nobody is expecting a repeat of the 2019/20 show by the Congress-led United Democratic Front this time. However, anything below an impressive win could cast a shadow over the leadership capabilities of the two who took over the party reins with tall claims.

This anxiety of the leadership was evident when a prominent leader made an emotional pitch to the delegates before the camp wrapped up. “You all have been picked to lead the block units because we were told you work best in your areas. It’s your responsibility to bring results. Only then it will be proven that our choice was correct,” the leader told the delegates.

The block presidents have been instructed to develop a personal rapport with the people in their respective areas and offer them all sorts of help. They have also been given clear-cut tasks and deadlines. The most important task is to complete the process of adding new voters to the voters’ list in the next few months. “Whenever we have prepared for elections in advance, we have won. Whenever we didn’t prepare, we lost,” the leader said. 

The block presidents were told to identify booth agents for polling in advance unlike the usual practice of finding someone as the election inches closer. “The agent should be assigned much earlier so that the person will be familiar with the voters’ list and the people in it,” the leader explained.

The most important message to the local leadership came then. “These are the times of social engineering which is important to ensure the support of different communities. You all have to go to all community leaders, irrespective of the size of a group, and interact with them frequently. If you go to them only during elections, they would not care about you,” the leader said.

The leader told the delegates that their works will be frequently monitored. They were also told that the names of those who fail to discharge their duties will be revealed in party forums.

The second leg of the workshop will be held in Kozhikode from Wednesday for the block presidents from the northern districts.

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