Congress always open to change, says Ashok Chavan ahead of Udaipur
No comparison is possible between the Congress and the BJP, asserts Ashok Chavan, a former CM of Maharashtra and a member of the Political Affairs panel constituted for the ‘Chintan Shivir’ in Udaipur
He is currently the minister for public works in Maharashtra. Ashok Chavan, a former chief minister, in a conversation ahead of the Chintan Shivir at Udaipur, says there is complete inner-party democracy in the party. Congress workers can and do approach leaders directly, he pointed out. Excerpts from the conversation:
National Herald: Organisationally how does the Congress compare with the BJP?
Ashok Chavan: Organisationally or ideologically, BJP cannot be compared to Congress. BJP has allegedly made itself the largest party by inviting people to ‘make a missed call and become a member’ type of campaign. This is not the way with the Congress.
Last month, the Congress party launched a membership drive wherein we registered members by cross-checking with voters' lists, the voter ID card and taking actual photographs of the individuals while registering their membership. The second difference is that the Congress is ideologically committed to pluralism, favours inclusiveness and secularism. The great organisational feature of the Congress is that we have the privilege of allowing even ordinary workers to go directly to the party leadership and express their feelings and express their doubts. In the Congress, decisions are taken collectively and in consultation with all. In a democracy, the freedom that is meant within the party is enjoyed by every worker in our party. I would like to emphasise that we do not have a dictator-like functioning.
NH: What are the changes needed?
AC: The Congress party has always been a party open to change. We are currently discussing when, what and how the changes are to be initiated. Speaking about the current situation, the party will be addressing several issues at the Chintan Shivir in Udaipur and utilise the opportunity to hold brainstorming sessions on a wide range of subjects.
NH: Why does the charge that it does not have inner party democracy stick to the Congress?
AC: There is no truth in the allegation that there is no democracy in the Congress party. Decisions in the Congress party are virtually always by consensus and in consultation with the people concerned. Some people in the party may differ on certain issues. But there is no feeling among the majority workers that there is no democracy within the party. The role of the leadership has always been to listen to everyone who works honestly for the party. The Congress Working Committee and our leaders decide who should lead the party. Today, Soniaji has this responsibility. She is competently running the party. The Gandhi family should lead the party in the wider interest of the country and in the party, is not just my sentiment but that of a majority of the party workers, I believe.
NH: Why is it so difficult to hold organisational elections every three years?
AC: Elections within the party are not difficult at all. Sometimes there can be technical difficulties. But it does not need to be interpreted differently. Elections are a regular process. Sometimes the apex body of our party, like the Congress Working Committee, takes decisions from time to time but even those decisions are made after a thorough discussion and consultation.
NH: How does the Congress cope with defectors, poaching and the Anti-Defection Act?
AC: For this, the Congress party has a disciplinary committee. It does its job according to the rules