In a bid to build consensus over the appointments of party chiefs in many states, the Congress is seeking suggestions from block- and district-level leaders on suitable candidates for the top posts, people familiar with the developments said.
The move is largely aimed at checking infighting in states and uniting warring factions, a Congress functionary said on condition of anonymity. The Congress leadership has asked the state incharges to start the consensus-building exercise across the country, he added. The process has kicked off in many states, including Telangana and Maharashtra.
In Telangana, All India Congress Committee (AICC) incharge Manickam Tagore has so far met 160 leaders, including former Union and state ministers, members of Parliament and legislators, to discuss the names for the new state chief and also the party’s revival strategy. “In the next few days, I am going to meet 500 leaders from block to district and state level leaders,” Tagore said. He said the broad-based consultation process has been initiated to evolve a consensus on the state leadership issue and also to formulate the party’s revival plan ahead of the 2023 assembly elections.
Telangana Congress president N Uttam Kumar Reddy resigned from the post soon after the assembly elections in 2018 but was asked to continue till a replacement was found. The Congress managed to win 19 seats in 2018, two fewer than its 2014 tally in the state. The party suffered successive electoral setbacks despite being instrumental in carving out Telangana by bifurcating Andhra Pradesh just before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
The party fought the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in Telangana and the just-concluded Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation polls under Reddy’s leadership and fared badly in both. While the Congress won three seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the party bagged just two seats in the GHMC polls.
Soon after, Reddy again submitted his resignation, prompting the party leadership to look for his replacement. Similarly, the Congress has started the consultation process in Maharashtra and Mumbai units, according to the person quoted above.
Maharashtra Congress unit Balasaheb Thorat is holding a ministerial post in the state. Maharashtra assembly speaker Nana Patole and the Congress party’s Gujarat incharge Rajeev Satav are front runners to replace Thorat.
Political analysts say the Congress is facing a leadership crisis in Telangana and over the past 7-8 years, its organisational structure has also collapsed.
Hyderabad-based political analyst C Narasimha Rao said the Congress needs to strengthen the organisational structure at the block and the district levels. “Unlike the Bhartiya Janata Party, the Congress has cadre and structure in rural areas. But it is missing the dedicated leaders there. The party should immediately appoint office bearers at block and district levels,” he said.