The party’s secret weapon: “It is Gandhiji’s party, and India is in its DNA.” His advice to the charmed AICC delegates was: “We should not chase power for the attributes of power. We should use it only to empower the voiceless”.
Rahul then swiftly proceeded to call for sweeping changes in the party and government and make a strong pitch for a rule-bound party organization where party workers would get importance and not outsiders--the ‘paratroopers’ who hopped in from other parties at election time and left it if they lost or were denied tickets.
In the midst of unending cheers for the Yuvraj, the Jaipur Declaration was almost overshadowed. But the Declaration did address issues that will be critical in the coming months as the party prepares itself for the 2014 general election. The Declaration acknowledged the need to take on board the concerns of the aspiring middle class and the youth, even as it made several suggestions both for the empowerment and security of women.
In the section on ‘Political Challenges’, the Declaration says: “The Congress recognizes there is a new aspiration for advancement among the people, especially among the youth and the middle class ... The Congress pledges to speak for both the young middle class India and the young deprived India.”
In the section on Emerging Socio-Economic Challenges, the document acknowledges that “there is a rising educated and aspirational middle class, especially in urban areas, and adds that a climate conducive to their advancement must be created.”
Rajni Patil, delegate from Maharashtra, urged the leadership to introduce a new slogan Congress ka haath, mahilaon ke saath (the Congress extends its hand to women). Anticipating such demands, the Jaipur Declaration makes a range of promises to improve the status and condition of women including the creation of help-lines in all major urban centres, exclusive transport facilities, and gender sensitivity classes for police personnel registering and investigating crimes against women.
The Declaration reiterates the party’s commitment to enact a law that will reserve a third of the seats in Parliament and the State legislatures for women. But, as mentioned already, it was Rahul’s maiden speech that stole the show. It did boost morale of the party men when he said workers should be respected and leaders at all levels, in the government and organization should open up beyond their chosen few to listen to them.
He spoke like a management consultant suggesting remedies to transform the system in a party, “we-have to build 40-50 leaders who will run the country, 5-10 in every state anyone of whom can rule that state.” His coronation speech as Congress’ vice-president gave clear hints that while he may have been officially or emotionally designated as Number Two, he would be the de-facto Number One-who will be the judge, not the lawyer.