At the conclusion of the Nav Sankalp Shivir in Udaipur, the Congress president Sonia Gandhi announced that the party would launch a 'Bharat Jodo' Yatra from Kanyakumari to Kashmir on 2 October (Gandhi Jayanti) this year.
"All party leaders are to participate in this - young as well as old," Sonia Gandhi said.
In an earlier version of this copy, The Quint had reported that several leaders in different meetings of the three-day Congress conclave suggested a nationwide mass movement by the party.
The copy is now being updated in light of Sonia Gandhi's announcement.
"The manner in which BJP is becoming entrenched, it can only be defeated through a mass movement. The same manner in which Congress' dominance was broken through the anti-Emergency movement, Mandal and Mandir and the India Against Corruption protest," a leader is known to have said at the Shivir.
Party leaders say that such a mass movement isn't something new but an "integral part of the Mahatma Gandhi's legacy" in the Congress.
"Just as Mahatma Gandhi gave the slogan of Bharat Chhodo, we are giving the slogan Bharat Jodo," said Congress general secretary Ajay Maken in his closing remarks.
Interestingly this was also stressed by Prashant Kishor in his presentation to the Congress leadership last month.
As a result of these discussions at the Chintan Shivir, a nationwide padyatra by Rahul Gandhi is being actively considered.
Mass Movement and Padyatra Came Up In Several Committees
The need for a national level movement was a common thread running through the discussions in at least the Organisation Committee, Political Issues Committee, Youth Committee and Economic Issues Committee at the Udaipur Chintan Shivir.
However, the each of the committees reached the same conclusion - regarding the need for a mass movement - through different angles.
For instance, at the economic issues committee the idea of a national level protest or movement came up more in the context of how the party can accrue the political benefits of what it calls its "transformative economic policies" in contrast to the "present economic mess under the BJP-led government".
In the youth committee, a national level movement was discussed in the context of addressing the party's alienation with the youth and the need to mobilise this crucial demographic.
In the political issues committee, the need for a mass movement came up as one of the crucial steps needed to defeat the BJP.
"Every leader who spoke in the political committee expressed a strong desire to win. Many felt that this can't be achieved without a mass movement," a leader involved in the political issues committee discussions disclosed.
Who Should Lead the Mass Movement?
At the meeting of the organisation committee, however, an interesting debate took place on the modalities of the mass movement, on questions like: who should lead it? Should it be at the state level or national level?
A leader from a southern state suggested that former Congress president Rahul Gandhi should undertake a national level Padyatra. The suggestion was that this could serve both as a mass outreach programme as well as part of a national movement against the government.
However, Mukul Wasnik, the chair of the organisation committee is said to have replied that "every leader should carry out such a Padyatra in their respective states".
In the end, the party seems to have decided against making one leader the face of the movement and instead make it the collective responsibility of party leaders.
What Issue Should the 'Movement' Be Based On?
There was a great deal of discussion on this aspect. In the economic issues committee, the discussion focussed on the fact that the BJP is presently not paying the political price for a bad economic situation, especially with rising inflation and increased unemployment.
"Conversely, we also felt that the Congress is not accruing the benefits of its own transformative economic policies," a leader who attended the meetings of the economic issues committee, said.
It was felt that both these aspects could be addressed through a mass movement on unemployment, price rise and what many leaders allege is the "economic mess made by the Modi government".
However, at the political issues committee, a few leaders emphasised that a protest cannot be based just on economic woes, the Congress should put forward its own "vision" and a "unifying narrative" of "true Indian nationalism".
It is as a result of the discussions in the political issues and later the Congress Working Committee that the theme 'Bharat Jodo' was given for the Yatra.