Udaipur Nav Sankalp Declaration: May 15, 2022

Born of the crucible of India’s freedom movement, the Indian National Congress stands tall on the legacy of immense resilience and sacrifice. The revolution to gain independence from British Rule was not only for self-rule and our own Constitution, but the elimination of all-round inequality, discrimination, bigotry, obscurantism, untouchability and parochialism. This epic struggle was led by crores of Indians under the leadership of the Indian National Congress.

Steeped in the spirit of patriotism and sacrifice, the basis of the freedom movement, was ‘Justice for All’. During this period, innumerable Congressmen and Congresswomen endured the inhuman torture of jail and many were martyred. After a long struggle of sixty-two years, starting from the year 1885, India finally won freedom in 1947.

This tradition of fighting for justice, the will to struggle and willingness to sacrifice, including martyrdom for the nation, paved the way for the unity, integrity and progress of India for the next seventy years after independence. The Indian National Congress and its leadership have always fought steadfastly against all those challenging India’s pluralistic and inclusive principles, especially those who took the path of violence and extremism, fundamentalism and naxalism. Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, and countless others laid down their lives to protect Indian values. India got political independence in 1947, but along with it inherited innumerable challenges in the form of a highly underdeveloped country. There was neither enough food grains nor industries. There were hardly any health facilities, educational institutions, irrigation, means of transport and communication, almost no electricity generation and inadequate arrangements for the security of the country. To free the country from the feudal tyranny of hundreds of princely states was a huge responsibility in itself. Through sheer determination, the leadership of the Indian National Congress converted all of these challenges into opportunities and laid the foundation of a strong, peaceful, inclusive and progressive India.

The first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, along with Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and many worthy colleagues, not only united the country, but through the Planning Commission and Five Year Plans laid the foundations for food grain production, dams, power stations, nuclear power, roads, rail, communication, security, educational institutions, research institutes, factories and infrastructure. Nehru established Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs), IITs, IIMs, universities, large irrigation dams and projects, large steel factories, space projects, Atomic Energy Commission, DRDO, and called them the temples of modern India.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the Indian National Congress initiated the Green Revolution and made India self-sufficient in food. Through bank nationalisation, the Congress opened the doors of the banking system to the common people. The forces challenging the sovereignty of India were made to bite the dust and the Congress played a decisive role in the formation of Bangladesh. In the 1980s and the early 1990s, the Congress once again laid the foundation of the 21st century India. On the one hand, the telecom revolution took wings, and on the other hand, power was decentralised to the panchayats and urban local bodies by giving them Constitutional status. The computer and IT revolution played a very important role in the making of modern India, the profound impact of which is being seen even today. When non-Congress governments had severely mishandled the economy to such an extent that India had to pledge its sovereign gold, it is the Congress that once more gave a new direction to India’s progress through economic liberalization and reaped the benefits of globalization.

The tenure of the Indian National Congress-led government from 2004 to 2014 will forever be remembered for establishing the milestones of inclusive development, unprecedented economic growth, and empowerment of every citizen through the rights-based approach. The courageous sacrifice of Sonia Gandhi to give up power and the economic expertise of Manmohan Singh took the country to new heights.

The collective leadership and vision of Smt. Sonia Gandhi, Dr. Manmohan Singh and Shri Rahul Gandhi shaped an inclusive and empowered India, in which every citizen has the ‘Right to information’ for transparency and accountability in governance, ‘Right to work’ under MGNREGA, ‘Right to food’, ‘Right to education’, ‘Right to forests’ for adivasis and forest-dwellers, and ‘Right to fair compensation and transparency in land acquisition’ for farmers. On the one hand, India crossed double-digit growth for the first time and on the other hand, 14 crore people were lifted above the poverty line along with the emergence of a large and progressive middle-class. Aspirations of the people rose and many touched new heights of progress. There was social harmony all around, there was peace and brotherhood, there was progress, and also a new ambition to keep moving forward.

Many conspiratorial forces came together to unleash a vicious cycle of propaganda to acquire power and in the process derailed the forward march of India on the path of inclusive development, empowerment and social harmony. But in the last eight years, the aspirations and expectations for the country’s success, progress and social harmony, have been deliberately drowned in doom, gloom and darkness. In the name of demonetisation, jobs and trade were dealt a body blow. A high-handed and arbitrary GST brought small and medium industries to the brink of disaster. With the announcement of an unplanned nation-wide lockdown, lakhs of Indians were forced to abandon their homes and livelihoods in the cities, and walk hundreds and thousands of kilometres to their villages, without any income and staring at an uncertain future. The government’s abysmal failure in handling the Covid-19 pandemic led to lakhs of avoidable deaths. The heights of arrogance of the rulers became even more evident when they turned a blind eye to the terrible sight of corpses littering the banks of Ganga.

Not only this, in the last eight years, the youth of the country are bearing the brunt of intolerable levels of unemployment. The fire of inflation has scorched every person and family. Buying a gas cylinder for the home is now out of reach. The skyrocketing prices of petrol, diesel, flour, edible oil, pulses, vegetables and daily essentials have made life difficult for most Indians. Unemployment and inflation have now become a curse for the citizens of the country.

No section of the society has remained untouched by the apathy of the ruling government. When lakhs of farmers took to the streets against the three black farm laws, the government brutally beat them up, put nails and thorns in their path and even declared them ‘terrorists’. India meanwhile is passing through a period of severe economic slowdown. Entire industries and businesses have collapsed but the government remains unconcerned. For the first time in seventy-five years, the country’s rupee has tumbled to `77.50 against a dollar. Every single public asset of the country built over the last seventy years is being sold arbitrarily by the BJP government. It seems that the government has put up a board that says ‘India for sale’.

The indiscriminate privatization of public assets, which is our national wealth built over 70 years is dangerous in itself. This becomes even more serious when the BJP government ill-advisedly sells public sector companies at throwaway prices to their favourite crony capitalist friends. Not only is reservation for dalits, adivasis, and backward classes being finished, but efforts are being made to establish the monopoly of a few people on the Indian economy.

To cover up its unforgivable failures, the BJP government is creating an atmosphere of communal disharmony in the country. Minorities, dalits and the poor are being targeted. The BJP’s hunger for power is sowing the seeds of hatred on the basis of religion and caste. India’s pluralism, brotherhood and inclusive values are being attacked. There is a malicious conspiracy to divide India on the basis of caste, faith, food, dress, language, and region. The BJP’s relentless efforts to implement its ideological agenda of fundamentalism has pushed India’s economy to the margins. This is a serious alarm bell for the present and future of the country.

In view of these extraordinary circumstances and challenges, the Indian National Congress has organized the “Nav Sankalp Chintan Shivir”. In the prevailing divisive environment, the BJP keeping the people ensnared in a web of religious and caste division to reap political benefit is a matter of deep concern. The party formed six groups to discuss and deliberate on six different issues. In every group, the delegates engaged in a frank and free-wheeling discussion, and many impactful ideas, suggestions and action points emerged. The disappointing results of the recently held Assembly elections were acknowledged and analysed. There was an extensive brainstorming on the shortcomings of the organization and proposals to bring necessary reforms to strengthen the party’s connect at the grassroots. Deficiencies were deliberated upon with an open mind, divergent views were discussed, all perspectives on ideology and policy were minutely analysed and concrete suggestions for improvements were made. All the delegates of the Nav Sankalp Shivir wholeheartedly participated in this introspection.

After this intensive exercise, the Indian National Congress has emerged with a new resolve, reaffirming its commitment to walk on the path of Indian nationalism and nation-building. On display was a commitment to live up to its legacy, to strive for ‘Justice for All’ under all circumstances, and to resolutely tackle the present challenges faced by the party. The deliberations held by the six groups culminated into some important conclusions.

“Organization” and the workers at the grassroots are the real strength of the Indian National Congress. Extensive deliberations were held on the pivotal role of the party organisation, its functioning and performance. The summary of the brainstorming is as follows.

All the vacant positions at the Block, District, State and National level will be filled in the next 90 to 180 days and accountability fixed. In order to make the organization more effective, apart from the Block Congress Committees, Mandal Congress Committees will be constituted as well.

Three new departments of the party will be created at the national level : i) Public Insight Department, responsible for gathering public feedback on different issues and evaluating policies in a scientific manner, to serve as an input to the party leadership. ii) National Training Institute, to train the party leaders and the workers on the policies, ideology and vision of the party, policies of the government, and other burning issues. The training institute can start at the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Development Studies located in Kerala. iii) AICC Election Management Department, to ensure preparedness well in advance for every election in an effective manner to achieve desired results. The General Secretary (Organization) is to assess the performance of the office bearers of All India Congress Committee, Pradesh Congress Committees and District Congress Committees. This will help in promoting or removing office bearers based on their performance.

There were several inputs on the issue of one person occupying a position for several years. It is in the interest of the organization to limit the term of a position for five years so that new people get an opportunity. Not only this, taking into consideration the demographics of India, it is important to ensure that 50% of the office bearers in Congress Working Committee, Pradesh Congress Committees, District Congress Committees, Block Congress Committees and Mandal Congress Committees are below the age of 50. Each of these units must also reflect social reality. Just and fair representation to dalits, adivasis, backward classes, minorities and women should be ensured. The principle of “one person, one post” should be followed. Likewise, the principle of “one family, one ticket” should also be ensured. In case another member of the family is politically active, they will be considered for a ticket only after five years of organizational experience.

The “Chairman of the North East Congress Coordination Committee” may be appointed an ex-officio permanent invitee of the Congress Working Committee. A group from amongst the Congress Working Committee be constituted at the national level, to advice the Congress President on important political issues and decisions, and help implement those decisions.

In every state, there should be a “Political Affairs Committee” to deliberate upon all important issues and drive a common political line of the party. The sessions of All India Congress Committee and Pradesh Congress Committees must be organized at least once in a year. Similarly, meetings of District, Block and Mandal Congress Committees should also be organized regularly. As we celebrate the 75th year of India’s independence, every District Congress Committee shall conduct a 75 km long padayatra beginning on August 9th to profess and propagate the spirit and sacrifices of the freedom movement.

In the changing environment, the jurisdiction, scope and structure of the media and communication department of the Indian National Congress should be expanded and made more effective with the help of subject-matter experts, and by connecting media, social media, data, research, vicharvibhaag, etc. to the communication department. All the media, social media, research departments of the states should be placed directly under the communication department of the All India Congress Committee, so that the message of the party can be spread in every nook and corner of the country every day.

In the prevailing extraordinary circumstances, the “Political group” stressed that every Congressperson should imbibe the principles of “Bhartiyata” and “VasudhaivaKutumbakam”. The Indian National Congress resolved that all Congresspersons will protect and follow Gandhian values and the Nehruvian idea of India. “Indian Nationalism” is the core character of the Indian National Congress and, in contrast, the pseudo-nationalism of the BJP is centred on the hunger for power. It is the duty of every Congressperson to bring out this difference to the people.

Today, the ruling party has launched a conspiratorial attack on the Indian Constitution, the principles and rights enshrined in it and on Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s ideas. The first blow of the attack on Constitutional rights is on the dalits, adivasis, backward classes, minorities, women and the poor of the country. Simultaneously, all the autonomous bodies and institutions protecting the rights of citizens have been undermined and hollowed out to serve the interests of those in power. To take on these disruptive forces, the Indian National Congress will establish extensive contact and dialogue with all social, cultural, non-governmental organizations, trade unions, think tanks and civil society groups. In order to protect this spirit of nationalism and democracy, the Indian National Congress is determined to establish dialogue and contact with all like-minded parties and will keep the avenues open for forming pragmatic alliances according to the political situation, while ensuring the organization’s strength, capability, and presence in all blocks and districts of the country.

The encroachment on India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by China cannot be tolerated. The Indian National Congress salutes the sacrifice of the soldiers of the Indian army in Ladakh. The lack of accountability of the BJP government and the evasive silence of the Prime Minister on this entire affair is a matter of grave concern for the country. Despite several rounds of talks, China has not given up its unauthorized occupation of Indian soil. This is a direct challenge to India’s territorial integrity. The BJP government’s lack of coherence and cogent strategy on this critical matter of national security is unacceptable.

The breakdown of law and order, and the spread of separatism and extremism in the peace-loving states of the North-East is very worrying. Assam-Mizoram-Meghalaya border dispute for political interests, long-term closure of Nagaland-Manipur National Highway, non-implementation of the mysterious Naga Peace Accord, 2019, and creating an atmosphere of social and political instability to gain power in the entire North-East shows the failures of BJP and has undone the efforts of the Congress in restoring normalcy to the Northeast. Dismantling its unique character and taking away full statehood from Jammu and Kashmir by downgrading its status to two Union Territories, not holding elections by not restoring the state assembly, snatching the right to vote from the people of Jammu and Kashmir, implementing a lop-sided and defective Delimitation Commission Report, and an all-around atmosphere of instability and insecurity with militants targeting and murdering security forces and thousands of civilians, including Kashmiri Pandits. This is a serious failure of the BJP government.

The Indian National Congress strongly condemns the rising communalism propagated by BJP and RSS to create communal polarisation to divide the society and our nation. The Indian National Congress strongly rejects the repeated targeting of religious and linguistic minorities by BJP and manufacturing communal conflict merely to reap electoral benefits The repeated attacks on the federal structure of the country by the BJP-led Union government is even more dangerous. It has become the nature of this government to illegally and unethically encroach into the jurisdiction of non-BJP state governments. The Constitution is being blown to pieces through the open and rampant abuse of the Office of the Governor solely for the political benefit of BJP. The Indian National Congress strongly opposes such unconstitutional acts.

The “Economic Group” during its extensive deliberations, acknowledged the enormous benefits of liberalisation ushered in the 1990s. The Indian National Congress reaffirms its commitment to an open economy in which economic growth will be driven by the private sector and a strong and viable public sector. After thirty years, taking into account global and domestic developments, the Indian National Congress stresses that the time is ripe for a reset of economic policy. The corner stone of the “Nav Sankalp Economic Policy” of the Congress will be jobs. It is a rejection of jobless growth and the BJP Government’s legacy of ‘job-loss’ growth. The Nav Sankalp Economic Policy’s focus on creation of jobs will necessarily incorporate the triggers for high GDP growth. The Nav Sankalp Economic Policy must address the issues of extreme poverty among a section of the people, hunger, nutritional deficiency especially among women and children, and the growing inequalities of income and wealth. The Indian National Congress remains committed to the welfare of the people. In a developing country, the creation of jobs and the creation of wealth must support an expansion of welfare measures.

The Indian National Congress believes that it must get the Indian economy and the Indian workforce future-ready. The challenges of the future include the changes in the global economy, advanced technology such as robotics, machine learning and artificial intelligence, and climate change. In furtherance of the Nav Sankalp Economic Policy, we must take into account the sharp deterioration of the Centre-State fiscal relations. The Indian National Congress is of the view that it is the need of the hour for a comprehensive review of Centre-State fiscal relations and to protect and preserve the rights of the states. The Nav Sankalp Economic Policy will aim to build a fair, just, and equal economy and bring opportunity and prosperity for all sections of the society.

The “Farmers and Khet Mazdoor Group”, taking cognizance of the current agrarian crisis created by the BJP government in the country, stressed the need for the government to revisit many of its anti-farmer policies. The food providers of the country are trapped in a swamp of debt of more than `16.80 lakh crore till March 31, 2021. The Union Government has displayed complete apathy towards the debt relief of the farmers over the past eight years. The need of the hour is to set up a “National Farmer Debt Relief Commission” and determine the path from loan waiver to debt relief. The Congress demands that the arrest of the farmers and the auction of their land in the eventuality of non-payment of loan must be stopped forthwith. In addition, farmers must be assured free power. Another big problem of the farmers is not getting the right price for the crop. After the biggest farmers’ movement of independent India, the BJP government promised to form a committee to consider the legal guarantee of MSP, but there was no outcome. The Union government should provide legal guarantee for MSP and ensure the right price of the produce at the earliest. The farmers’ organizations have raised a just and equitable demand for determination of MSP by the formula of C2+50% i.e. the cost of capital, the rent of land must be added and enhanced by 50% for determination of MSP.

Pradhan Mantri FasalBima Yojana has become a private insurance company profit scheme in reality. Private insurance companies made `34,304 crore profit in the last six years, but the farmer did not benefit from the scheme. It is high time the entire agricultural sector is insured and insurance companies of public sector companies should operate the insurance scheme on the principle of ‘no profit, no loss’. For farmers’ welfare, it is necessary that a separate “Agriculture Budget” should be presented in the Parliament in accordance with the Indian National Congress’ 2019 manifesto, through which an account of all the projects of farmers’ welfare should be given. “National Farmers Welfare Fund” should be created to provide relief to the farmer in view of the effects of weather, natural calamities, fluctuations in market prices, etc. The tractor and other agricultural equipment of the farmer must be exempted from GST.

The NYuntamAayYojana(NYAY) scheme, proposed in the 2019 manifesto of the Indian National Congress, must be implemented by transferring 6,000 per family directly into their account every month. This is the only way to include small and marginal farmers and the landless poor in the mainstream. The number of Krishi Upaj Mandis must be increased from the existing 7,600 to 42,000 in order to ensure that there is one Krishi Upaj Mandi for every 10 km. MGNREGA is a critical solution for rural employment and poverty alleviation. Unfortunately, the Union BJP government has cut the budget of MNREGA despite the extraordinary circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic. While it is mandatory to provide 100 days of work to every person who demands work under MGNREGA and it must be strictly implemented, the annual average income should be made 18,000 by bringing MGNREGA wages equal to the minimum wage.

The “Social Justice and Empowerment Group” took a detailed look at the deliberate injustice and wilful discrimination against the oppressed, deprived, backward classes, poor sections and the minorities of the country. The Indian National Congress resolved to raise their voice and demands across the country. In modern India, the voice of the labour and labour unions must be heard and they should be empowered.

The Indian National Congress demands that the SC-ST sub-plan must be reintroduced with legal recognition in the budgets of the Union and state governments. For the empowerment of women, the Constitutional amendment of 33 percent women’s reservation in Parliament, Legislative Assemblies and Legislative Councils should be passed as soon as possible and women of every category should get the benefit of proportional reservation.

The Indian National Congress resolved to run a ‘Leadership Mission’ for the creation of new leadership from among the deprived sections in the SC-ST reserved parliamentary and assembly constituencies. Due to the hostile atmosphere created by BJP, it is also necessary that a special ‘Sadbhavna Mission’ be organized in the localities of minorities, SC, ST, OBC to foster harmony. “Social Justice Advisory Council” should be created in the All India Congress Committee to strongly raise the issues of SC, ST, OBC and minority communities, to focus on their problems and give adequate representation to their leadership. This Advisory Council can give suggestions to the Congress President on issues pertaining to the SC, ST, OBC, minority communities and women. Indian National Congress resolves to create a “health mission” for the Scheduled Tribes and also help secure lease (patta) of forest land to the Scheduled Tribes. A meeting of Congress Working Committee, Pradesh Congress Committees and District Congress Committees should be held every six months to focus on matters related to SC, ST, OBC, minority and women.

There was extensive consultation regarding the new education policy. In particular, it was pointed out that the provisions of the new education policy naturally deprive the children of poor and exploited classes of equal rights, and will further increase the huge gap between rich and poor.

The data of caste census of backward classes by the Congress-UPA government is deliberately not being made public by the Union government. The direct goal behind this is to deprive the backward classes of their rights. The Indian National Congress resolves to begin a decisive struggle for the demand to make the caste census data public and get the backward classes their rights. The “Youth Group” expressed its deep concern over the unbearable sufferings of the youth—hit by expensive education, rampant unemployment and massive “digital divide” since the Covid-19 pandemic between the children of the rich and of the poor. To fight the unprecedented unemployment created by BJP, it is proposed to undertake ‘Rozgar Do Padyatra’ from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, which would start from 15th August, 2022, on completion of 75 years of independence. On the lines of the Right to Education Act implemented in schools, there should be a provision for free education for poor students in colleges and universities as well. The Union government should make a permanent solution to bridge the gap between the children of the poor and the rich and help the states. The vacant posts lying in all government departments, Government of India undertakings and in all the three services should be filled in the next six months by running a special ‘recruitment drive’.

At the organizational level, 50% of the position should be reserved for those below 50 years of age. The youth group also concluded that there should be a limit on retirement age for all elected posts such as MP, MLAs and MLCs. In political appointments in future Congress Governments, 50 percent positions should be given to those below 50 years of age. The experience of people beyond 50 should be utilized for strengthening the party organization. Beginning with the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, half of the tickets for Parliament, State Legislatures, State Councils and other electable posts should be given to those below 50 years of age. Party leaders should play a leading role and participate in non-political activities, such as youth festivals, cultural events, sports events, youth parliament, town hall meetings and blood donation etc. This will also help in the spread and expansion of the party among the youth. Exactly 80 years ago, in the year 1942, Mahatma Gandhi gave a call to the nation, “Quit India” i.e. “Bharat Chodo”! In the year, 2022, our call to the nation is “Unite India” i.e. “Bharat Jodo”!

This is Udaipur’s Nav Sankalp!