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Sonia Gandhi constitutes 10-member Jaipur Chintan Shivir organizing group

New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi has appointed a ten-member organizing group for the party’s brainstorming session or Chintan Shivir to be held in Jaipur from January 18 to 20.

The organizing group will be chaired by veteran leader and party treasurer Motilal Vora, while former Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni will be the convenor.

A.K. Antony, Ahmed Patel, P. Chidambaram, Janardan Dwivedi, Oscar Fernandes, Digvijay Singh, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Jairam Ramesh are the other eight members of the organizing group, an AICC press release said on Thursday.

The Chintan Shivir will discuss the political and economic situations and seek new ideas ahead of the next Lok Sabha elections.

Out of the scheduled three days, two days will be devoted to brainstorming session of 300-odd senior leaders and will culiminate into a day-long AICC meeting on the last day, AICC general secretary Janardan Dwivedi told reporters here today.

The AICC meeting will endorse the conclusions arrived at during the brainstorming exercise, the third such ‘Shivir’ since Sonia Gandhi became Congress President in 1998. The earlier two brainstorming sessions were held at Pachmarhi in Madhya Pradesh and Shimla in Himachal Pradesh.

The first ‘Shivir’ was held at Pachmarhi in 1998 soon after Gandhi took over reins of the organisation. The second ‘Shivir’ held at Shimla in 2003 led to Congress coming to power at the Centre via the coalition route in May, 2004.

The exercise in Jaipur will be crucial for the party and is expected to be the first such venture after a proposed reshuffle of AICC secretariat when Rahul Gandhi is set to assume a larger role in the party.

The idea of holding a ‘Chintan Shivir’ was mooted by Sonia Gandhi in the party’s plenary here in December, 2010 but it could not materialise as both the government and the party had battled one crisis after another since then.

The issue of alliances is expected to figure prominently at the Jaipur brainstorming session as it had done in Pachmarhi and Shimla. At Pachmarhi, Congress had held that coalition is a transient phase while that in Shimla had called for unity of secular forces that led to the formation of UPA in 2004 ousting BJP-led NDA from power.

It will be held after assembly election results in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh come out and preparations for assembly polls in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Delhi would have commenced.

Congress has a set up an Election Coordination Committee headed by Rahul Gandhi with three sub-groups one of which is exclusively devoted to the issue of alliances.

The Shivir is part of a series of programmes by Congress in recent months to galvanize the party for the Lok Sabha elections.

The coming Chintan Shivir could also take a fresh look at the issue of alliances as there is a view in the party that tie-ups cannot be wished away in present circumstances.

Concerned over the adverse political fall-out of the economic reforms measures and the battering on account of scams, the Congress President had asked the party and the government at the dialogue meeting to pull their socks up to get a renewed mandate in the next Lok Sabha elections.

At Burari plenary session while announcing the plan to hold Chintan Shivir, Gandhi had said: “It will be an occasion to hear the voices of our colleagues, particularly the younger ones, to bring new energy to our thinking”. (ANI)