New Delhi: The Congress's two-day Chintan Shivir in Jaipur begins on Friday. Sources say that the top brass of the party will focus on the Lok Sabha elections that are due in 2014. The Shivir will also discuss political challenges being faced by the Congress. Social media and flash protests will be a key focus.
Also on the agenda is a decision on whether to go it alone in the polls or focus on an alliance and new alliance partners. The Congress has come a long way from the 1998 Panchmarhi Resolution when Sonia Gandhi said no to coalition. Since 2004, when the UPA came to power, the Congress's allies have often given the party sleepless nights.
Economic reforms and policies had to be put on hold with repeated threats of walkout by Left, with the Indo-US nuclear deal being the breaking point. In 2009, the UPA came back to power with a new ally, but this too didn't last long. The FDI in multi-brand retail led to Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee's exit.
With the next Lok Sabha polls close by, the hunt for new, stable allies has begun, the only hitch being Rahul Gandhi's 'ekla chalo re' desire. However, despite the fact that Rahul and many within the Congress who feel that amenable allies or a solo show would fast-track the Congress's growth, the reality is that the Congress just doesn't have the numbers anymore.
In Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the party is almost negligible. Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu offer little hope for the Congress. At the Shivir, the Congress will look at the option of positioning itself as the only party which can bring growth, while acknowledging the need for coalitions. It will try to convince voters that too many parties inhibit growth.
Who can be the new allies the Congress will try to woo? Sources say the Janata Dal (United) under Nitish Kumar and the Biju Janata Dal are the top contenders.
In the end, how much the Congress is able to manage in 2014 will also decide whether Rahul is the next Prime Minister.