The Congress, which haplessly watched the BJP-RSS tango with some supportive NGOs and activists under the mascot of Anna Hazare wrecking its UPA-2 government, aims to make its panel replicate the Congress version of the agitational project through joint ventures or by lending support to agreeable protests against the second Modi regime which enters its second half.
Apart from mobilising Congress workers, the panel could also reach out to anti-BJP social activists, NGOs and intellectuals who have been critical of the Modi regime or have been confronted by it, party insiders said. Digvijaya Singh, whom Sonia Gandhi picked as chairman of the panel, is known to network with civil society organisations and activists opposed to the Sangh Parivar.
AICC insiders said Gandhi has already briefed Singh on the course of the 9-member panel, which includes Priyanka Vadra. The panel is slated to hold its first meeting next week. The ongoing farmers protest meetings, with a Bharat Bandh on September 27, and the proposed nationwide protests against the Centre from September 20 to 30 by the Congress and 18 like-minded opposition parties could become the immediate focus of the panel’s first meeting as they could be used as debut programmes, people familiar with the planning said. Issues including monetisation, inflation, unemployment and aggression of Sangh Parivar outfits too could invite future attention for mobilising agitations. Since Vadra is AICC general secretary in-charge of poll-bound UP and Singh too had stints as AICC pointsman for UP and Uttarakhand, the panel may also work to back up the poll-bound party units with agitations against BJP state regimes.
The brief for the new party panel makes it clear that it will not be a parallel forum but will work within Congress organisational framework and under the functional direction of AICC general secretary (organisation). The panel will coordinate with PCCs on mobilising party workers for agitations.
Congress circles will be keen on seeing how Gandhi picking Singh, a known ‘agent provocateur’ against RSS-BJP, to head the panel to mobilise Congress agitations against the Modi regime would sharpen the battlelines. The Madhya Pradesh BJP has already responded by calling Singh ‘Pakistan’s sleeper cell’. Congress leaders will also be watching if Singh would tap his personal rapport with many of the 23 Congress change seekers to join the panel’s programmes despite his refusal to join them. Another point of interest would be how the AICC panel provides Priyanka Vadra her much-craved break from the ‘Uttar Pradesh conundrum’ and how she taps the ‘national brief’ with opportunities and challenges. Gandhi’s experiment to constitute a committee exclusively for agitations came after many recent stir announcements of the party leadership against the Centre ended up mostly only on social media and in the AICC control room.