In a paradigm shift from Pachmarhi, where the Congress drew the roadmap it has followed for the past five years, the party opened its doors to electoral tie-ups and cast a net out for the have-nots through promises of job quotas and anti-poverty measures. A three-point programme emerged: strategic alliances, social engineering and pro-poor policies.
The Congress is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve the short-term goal of winning the 2004 Lok Sabha poll, except compromise on the issue of leadership. Any doubt on that score was laid to rest by the Shimla Sankalp (resolution), which anticipated "the victory of the Congress under the leadership of Smt Sonia Gandhi". Sonia herself made it amply clear that she was the undisputed boss, responsible for her decisions and willing to be held accountable for them.