Plans to transform Indian National Congress into a semi-cadre, 'group'-less party has begun in all earnest.
The Political Affairs Committee (PAC) of the party on Wednesday decided to form disciplinary committees to check "wayward responses of party men" in all districts and, as part of taking the party closer to the people, designate 'micro-level' or 'ayalkoottam' committees as the basic functional unit of the party, lower than the existing ward/booth committees. In yet another novelty for the Congress, 10 per cent of seats each in all party bodies will be reserved for women and SC/ST members.
The decisions were announced by KPCC president K Sudhakaran in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday after the PAC meeting. "There will be no more jumbo committees in the Congress. The decision has been taken unanimously at the PAC," the KPCC chief said right at the start of the media interaction. He said the KPCC office-bearers, adhering to the traditional style of Congress functioning, would not exceed 51 members.
And this will be inclusive of the president, three working presidents, three vice presidents, 15 general secretaries and one treasurer. The last KPCC committee approved by the Congress 'high command' in September 2020 had 96 secretaries and 44 general secretaries in addition to the higher posts of the president, working presidents and vice presidents.
The District Congress Committees too, like the KPCC, will not have more than 51 members, Sudhakaran said. In smaller districts like Kasaragod, Wayanad, Idukki and Pathanamthitta, where there is less number of Assembly constituencies, the number would be reduced proportionately.
Ruling out the sway of groups under his charge, Sudhakaran said the appointments to crucial posts in the KPCC and DCCs would be done solely based on merit. "We will not let any influence determine our choices," he said.
Sudhakaran also said that full-timers would be appointed as heads of various organisational structures. "We will also be evaluating their performances and if found wanting, the candidates would be removed and replacements found," the KPCC chief said.
To a question whether he would be able to implement the decision, Sudhakaran said he had the capability to do so. He said the new committees, from the district to the 'ayalkoottam' levels, will be completed "within two to three months".
The creation of the micro-level or ayalkoottam unit as the lowest structure in the organisational hierarchy looks like the most crucial decision of the day. "There is a feeling that congress members are getting distanced from people in rural areas. Party workers should form personal bonds at the grassroots level and transform Congress into a party that would function as a fallback mechanism for the poor and the marginalised," Sudhakaran said.
He said an 'ayalkoottam' unit will look after 30-40 houses within an area.
The KPCC chief also said that a comprehensive study would be conducted into the failure of the UDF at the Assembly polls. Five zonal committees, with three members each, would be formed for the purpose. The report will be submitted in a month, he said.
Party discipline was the other area Sudhakaran wanted to enforce. "Indiscipline is a big tragedy of the party," he said. "The internal democracy in the party is being badly misused. This has to stop," the KPCC chief said. All DCCs will set up disciplinary committees. There will also be an appeal committee at the state level.