It was dubbed as the country’s biggest political conclaves, where the highest collective leadership of the Grand Old Party, would meet, meditate, introspect, debate and decide on a disruptive and revolutionary set of changes to not only one of the biggest dormant political organisations in the country but also set an action-packed agenda ahead for India, one in which the Gandhi family-led Indian National Congress would lead the challenge against the Narendra Modi-led BJP in the elections of 2024.
The three-day party affair began with the right noises, including the first issue of trying to change being a dynastic party, run by a small group of largely unelected, (and perhaps unelectable), operating like a coterie, with a grand declaration on one family, one ticket only. It did not materialise, because the fine print was pretty glaring — the exception was provided to the members of the Gandhi family, and later, revised and released publicly as a laughable condition; if the second, or third, or entire family, has been active in Congress for the last five years, the rule would not apply.
The Congress also blunted its biggest media power — exclusive stories and reports based on leaks from internal meetings, which led story hungry journalists, still licking wounds at the near total ignore rule enforced by the BJP camp, by banning mobile phones. The irony is mind numbing.
The Congress party and its top leadership, which accuses, perhaps rightly, that most media in the country parrot the agenda of the saffron right and ignores the Opposition, or is hostile to them, actually now wants to ignore the media totally. The clamp on leaks worked. The media largely ignored the proceedings.
By day two, it became apparent that nothing earth shattering would come out of the proceedings anyway. There was a resolution on women reservation, with a caste-based pro rata proportion within it. The BJP and other parties did not even react to the announcement.
On day three, the finale, had Rahul Gandhi expound to his leaders of how they had lost connection with the people and must reach out to the common folk on the ground. He further spoke of how the BJP could not be challenged adequately by the regional parties and, how only the Congress was equipped to do so, armed with an ideology. He also warned them that it would not be an easy battle.
The biggest official takeaway — the Udaipur declaration — too, did not materialise in the form of a formal declaration; and it was left to the minions to construct its import from the two speeches of the highest leaders — party president Sonia Gandhi, and past president, Rahul Gandhi.
The Congress never realised when the BJP went to a spree to usurp its icons, from Sardar Vallabhai Patel to P.V. Narasimha Rao, and are now trying hard to save the final piece of the family silver — Gandhi. The national yatra from October 2 is a valiant announcement, but will a march modelled on the Mahatma yield results, and is the Congress still worth its Gandhian salt, will be answered in future but the Udaipur baithak did not inspire a nation, or even the part of it, that was looking for a sign of a challenge to Modi’s BJP.