Thursday, January 30, 2014

RaGa Interview: Why The Youth Congress Is Cheering?

By Pallavi Polanki (Guest Writer)

Going by the number of times Congress leader Rahul Gandhi spoke of ‘opening up the system’ and bringing in ‘youngsters’ in his first one-on-one TV interview on Monday night, it seems as if an imminent crackdown awaits the party ahead of the Lok Sabha election. 

The interview comes less than a fortnight after the AICC meet at which Gandhi was given the formidable task of leading the party’s election campaign for the upcoming general election.
“The Congress party is an extremely powerful system and all the Congress party needs to do is bring in younger fresher faces in the election which is what we are going to do and we are going to win the election,” said the Congress vice-president during the 80-minute long interview to Times Now. 

Not exactly heartening news for many sitting Congress MPs, who have been essentially put on notice by Gandhi and told to make way of ‘younger fresher faces’. However, for the youth Congress cadre, which Gandhi has spent the better half of his decade-long political career re-structuring, his ascension comes attached with a lot of hope and expectation of being given a chance to contest assembly and parliamentary elections. 

Responding to Gandhi’s first big TV interview and what his repeated emphasis on bringing the youngsters meant in practical terms, Rajeev Satav, president of the Indian Youth Congress (IYC) said, “It means India is a young country and it should be represented by youth leaders. 

In that context, in the coming elections we (youth Congress cadre) will get the maximum representation. And the way he (Gandhi) is focusing on youth and women, there will be a systematic plan to develop the next leadership.” Elaborating on the growing representation of youth within the party and in the elections, Satav said, “In the last four years, almost 70-80 boys from Youth Congress have become MLAs. 

This would not have been possible if Rahulji was not there. In Rajasthan, for instance, the maximum votes were secured by the youth Congress president. He got a lead of 18,000 votes. In every state youth representation will be there. In Parliament too we are hoping that there will be good youth representation.” 

Satav says Gandhi’s influence has meant that more youth have been represented on screening committees and given roles of influence within the party. Asked what qualities Gandhi will be looking for in selecting youth candidates to fight elections, Satav says, “Those with grass-root level connect will be given power and recognition. 

Just hanging around 24 Akbar Road (Congress party headquarters), 12 Tughlak Lane (Rahul Gandhi’s residence) or 10 Janpath (Sonia Gandhi's residence) will not do the trick anymore. We are focusing on candidates who are working on the ground. He wants to empower the common worker of the party,” says the IYC president. That Gandhi remains focused on the long-term mission of empowering the youth, says Satav, was the most important take-away of the interview for him as youth congress president. 

To what extent Gandhi’s ‘honesty of purpose and commitment to change the system’ (to quote party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi’s description of how Gandhi came through during the interview) will succeed in changing the system that is the Congress party will be evident from how many new faces the party will field in the next election.

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