Big Congress push to make space for youth, women
50% reservation notified at all party levels
The Congress approved several major changes to its Constitution during the 85th plenary session at Raipur in Chhattisgarh, including reserving 50 per cent seats for Dalits, tribals, OBCs, minorities, women and youth, digital membership and inclusion of transgenders.
The Constitution Amendments Committee led by Ambika Soni placed 85 amendments to the party Constitution at the Plenary Session. Following which, convener of the committee Randeep Surjewala announced six main amendments to the Constitution.
CWC members to be increased to 35, from 25 and there will 50 per cent reservation for SCs, STs, OBCs, minorities, youth and women
50 per cent reservation across all committees for SCs, STs, and OBCs
Digital membership will be primary
Inclusion of the name of the mother and wife on membership forms, in addition to transgenders as an additional category
One AICC member to be chosen for every 6 PCC delegates
All elected representatives of the Congress to be automatically made the delegates of block-, district- and state-level committees
The amendments state that there should be 50 per cent reservation for those below 50 years of age at all levels from mandal to state as also women, both in the reserved categories and in the unreserved category in the remaining 50 per cent.
Hailing the move, Uttar Pradesh Congress worker Sadaf Jafar stressed that empowering women meant empowering society. "When women are empowered politically, they will fight for themselves and others. Gender parity within a political set-up ensures gender parity within the society," said Jafar, who was the Congress candidate from the Lucknow Central Assembly constituency for the 2022 state elections.
This decision of the Congress, Jafar believes, will force other political parties also to follow suit. This will bring women, their aspirations and their future to the centre-stage.
The Constitution has also included, as first mentioned at the Chintan Shivir in Udaipur, 50 per cent of all delegates and office bearers in intermediate Congress committees, blocks/city Congress committees, district Congress committees and Pradesh Congress Committees shall be reserved for SCs/STs/OBCs/minorities, out of which half shall be members of SCs/STs.
The Constitution has increased the number of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) members to 35 from the earlier 25. This will include the President of the Congress, the chairperson of the Congress Parliamentary Party, the Congress Prime Minister/former Congress Prime Ministers, the leaders of the Congress Party in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and former Presidents of the Congress Party.
This has assured the presence of Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Manmohan Singh in the highest decision making body of the party. Leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury will also be a CWC member.
The amendment to the CWC also seeks to provide 50 per cent reservation to Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), Other Backward Classes (OBCs), women, youngsters and minorities, said Surjewala.
The party’s constitutional amendment now underscores that a member “does not, directly or indirectly, openly or otherwise, adversely criticise the accepted policies and programmes of the party on public platforms, except through inner party forum”.
The member must work for promoting the principles of secularism, socialism, social justice and democracy. The Constitution now states that the member should not have violated the land ceiling laws nor has been convicted for an offence involving a heinous crime or moral turpitude.
The party has also amended a clause which included abstinence from alcohol. The clause, Article V(B)(c), used to stipulate that a Congress member “abstains from alcoholic drinks and intoxicants”. Article V(B)(c) now states that the Congress member “abstains from use of psychotropic substances, prohibited drugs and intoxicants”. The alcohol has been removed, but Surjewala maintained that intoxicants included all substances that intoxicate.
The party’s amended Constitution reveals that the subscription fee for membership is proposed to be increased to Rs 10 from the current Rs 5 and from January 1, 2025, all membership will be in digital form only. And from January 1, 2025, “permanent register of members shall be maintained in digital form only”. Until then, a physical permanent register of members has to be maintained by every block/constituency and city/town Congress committee.
The membership form has been amended to include “Transgender” as the third gender; father’s/mother’s or spouse’s name; and minorities.
Congress, in its amended Constitution, is pushing for the formation of intermediary Congress committee, panchayat and ward Congress committee and or other subordinate committees in addition to the existing Block committees.
The Pradesh Congress Committee can also increase the number of District Congress Committees and freshly delineate the area and jurisdiction as also constitute City Congress Committee in the cities with population of over five lakh.