All the colour from sidelines of the Congress Plenary  

A few titbits of gossip gleaned from the sidelines of the 84th Congress Plenary Session that took place over the weekend in Delhi

Photo courtesy:
Photo courtesy:

Vishwadeepak and S Khurram Raza

The ‘Change is now’ slogan was very prominently visible at the 84th plenary session of the Indian National Congress. Change was indeed visible in several ways. The responsibility of conducting the whole session was placed on younger Congress leaders including Sushmita Dev, Nadeem Javed, Ragni Naik, Gaurav Gogoi, instead of the ‘old guard’. Priyanka Chaturvedi, Shama Mohammad, Salman Soz, Pranav Jha and Naseeb Singh were seen everywhere. The stage was also a total change from the past as there were no mattresses and pillows with the President sitting in the centre and other senior leaders sitting around donning the white Congress cap. This plenary session saw just one speaker at the podium at any given time. Party president Rahul Gandhi in his concluding speech said “You would not have seen this kind of stage at any party’s meeting. Leaders [usually] sit on the stage but I have kept this stage vacant for you (Congress workers)”.

One of the Congress workers commented, “Thank God, they have done away with the ‘gadda’ (mattresses and cushion) system. Ab araam ka wakt gaya (the time of rest is gone), Now we have to get up and work.”

The plenary was flooded with relatively younger Congress workers, belonging to the age group of 35-55. Seniors were seen sitting only in the front two rows. Salman Soz, son of late veteran Congress leader and former Union Minister Saifuddin Soz, was upbeat and said “young blood is the need of any organisation”.

“For the first time I witnessed that no one was interested in taking pictures with established leaders, rather they were busy taking selfies with people of their own age group,” said Sangram Sinh Appasaheb Nalwade of Maharashtra.

Another young delegate hailing from Himachal Pradesh Arun Thakur was so happy with Navjot Singh Sidhu’s speech. “We need these kind of speeches from a leader who bats on the front foot and such kind of speeches will change the narrative for the Congress,” he said.

Therewere shouts from Congress workers, “Sidhuji, aur bolo!’ (Sidhu ji, speak for alonger time!) while Sidhu spoke. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh alsobroke into a large smile listening to Siddhu’s speech. Ambika Soni was seenconstantly translating Sidhu’s speech for Chidambaram, who for a change gave uphis serious demeanour and laughed.

The buzzer for speakers at the plenary session has always been an issue, for the speakers and for the workers too. But this time, speakers seemed to follow it broadly. Anand Sharma finished his speech as soon as the buzzer went off. The crowd wanted Sidhu to speak more even after the time was over, but he too broadly respected the time limit. At one point the electronic buzzer kept buzzing and the workers shouted that it should be switched off for good!

During the obituary references, Mukul Wasnik forgot the names of Murli Deora and Priya Ranjan Das Munshi but Milind Deora was seen speaking to Mukul Wasnik, who later mentioned the names of these two leader.

Arun Sharma, another delegate from Himachal Pradesh was seen busy helping fellow delegates. “I am happy to see that delegates are cooperative and are not complaining”.

Satyajit Tambe, Vice President of Maharashtra Youth Congress was delighted to see Rahul sitting in the audience. “It gives a feeling that he is one of us and gives positive vibes”.

Digvijay Pawar Desai of KPCC was pleased with the arrangements. “The venue was lovely as we had enough space to stroll outside”. The small time street vendors like young delegates were also upbeat as they made good money by selling souvenir, tea and food items outside the gates.

The only complaint that was heard from every side was the issue of mosquitos and even Priyanka Gandhi and Ahmed Patel took notice of it (tweets). Food at the plenary session was and abundant, especially for media. But some journalists who came in a little late were heard grumbling as their colleagues had finished all the ‘ras’ from the ‘ras malai’!

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Published: 19 Mar 2018, 7:00 PM