Column | Congress hopes to widen base with Unit Committees, Sudhakaran's dream project

If the Congress Working Committee is the highest decision-making body of the party, its Kerala unit has a new grassroots-level unit called the Congress Unit Committee or the CUC.

The CUC is the brainchild of Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president K Sudhakaran. The fledgling entity is currently the talking point within the Congress's State unit and has even grabbed the attention of even the CWC.

Soon after taking charge of the party in June, Sudhakaran talked about the importance of forming CUCs. The KPCC, which conducted three surveys to understand the 'ground reality', was shocked to know that about 46 per cent of the booth committees have been inactive. The leadership realised the need for building a strong base, and the formation of CUCs commenced on Gandhi Jayanthi, October 2.

A month later, the Congress leadership has been raving about a silent revolution at the grassroots level.

The media has not been invited to CUC formation anywhere, and complaints were raised at the KPCC leadership meeting that even local Congress MLAs, too, have been left out.

What is a CUC?

Booth-level committees are the base units in the Congress all over the country. The CUC has been envisaged as committees below the booths, the primary unit in elections.

On an average, 300 houses and 1,000 votes come under a booth. Each booth will be divided into six, and five Congress workers will approach 50 houses with a printed questionnaire, to identify pro-Congress families.

Each CUC will comprise members of families desiring to be with the Congress. The members will convene a meeting in one of their residences, and elect a president, secretary, treasurer and two executive committee members. The Congress's flag will be ceremoniously handed over to the CUC, which will hoist it in one of the member houses.

Each booth will have six CUCs, providing Congress with 30 functionaries. Their complete details will be forwarded to all levels, including the KPCC. If the survey finds only a pro-Congress member in a household that house, too, will be considered as party-friendly, and the lone member will be included in the CUC.

The responsibilities of CUCs include taking the message of Congress to the grassroots, fostering the party, strengthening the relationship among households, helping each other, helping others, and if possible, initiate collective entrepreneurship.

Training spree

Even since Sudhakaran took charge, Congress is on a training spree, something that has been alien so far to the party. Initially, a two-day workshop was held at Neyyar to train 42 activists. The are moulding more trainers at the lower levels.

Though the training programmes were planned for new unit committees, they have been expanded to include panels at the constituency level.

The training includes a three-minute message by Sudhakaran, which will be projected onto a screen. The DCC president concerned, too, could speak, but should wind up within three minutes.

The AICC general secretary in-charge of Kerala, Tariq Anwar, who visited such a training session, observed the proceedings from the back row, and addressed the participants after the class.

The training sessions deal with the history of Congress, dos and don'ts in public life and organisational responsibilities.

Groups too welcome the initiative

Though touted as the 'baby' of the new KPCC leadership, factions within the Congress are cooperating with the initiative.

"No one can keep away. Anyone doing so will be isolated. Strengthening the party at the lowest level is a common need," Sudharakan said.

Meanwhile, KPCC has recommended the AICC to emulate the Kerala model of strengthening the party at the grassroots level elsewhere in the country. The details of the initiative, too, have been handed over to the Central leadership.

So far, the party has formed about 10-20 per cent of the CUCs targeted in the districts. If the party's initiative goes according to its plan, Congress will have more than one lakh office-bearers at the grassroots level in six months.

In future, no leader will be drafted into any committee unless s/he is a member of the CUC. In short, CWC member A K Antony should be a member of a CUC in Jagathy, Thiruvananthapuram, his place of residence.

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