Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Young Congress icon Rahul playing ‘bigger role’

Congress leaders may have often retracted their statements calling Rahul Gandhi prime ministerial material, but fact is the 38-year-old party general secretary is being groomed for a “bigger role”.
Just like Rahul, his father Rajiv Gandhi was first made the Congress general secretary by his grandmother and late prime minister Indira Gandhi and put in charge of the Indian Youth Congress and the National Students Union of India (NSUI).
“Whether he is made the prime minister after the coming Lok Sabha elections or not, the fact is that he is being prepared for a bigger role,” a senior leader told IANS.
Rahul was appointed general secretary in September 2007 and began making his presence felt in the party. While he has launched measures to overhaul the youth and student wings of the party, he has also been inducted in important committees of the Congress.
Party sources say his voice is gaining prominence even in major decisions of the party.
A senior Congress leader told IANS: “It was because of Rahul that the Congress conveyed to National Conference leaders in Jammu and Kashmir that it would join the government there only if the young Omar Abdullah was made the chief minister.”
“As a member of the Congress’ future challenges committee, set up to brainstorm on how to overhaul the party, his inputs are heard seriously,” he said. Party leader M. Veerappa Moily, who heads the committee, calls Rahul a “star”.
External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee had Thursday said in Chennai at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas that Rahul is walking in the footsteps of his father, but Saturday clarified to a television channel that it was a general comment.
Earlier, Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh had made a similar remark, which was retracted after Congress president Sonia Gandhi reaffirmed faith in Manmohan Singh as the prime minister.
Party general secretary Prithviraj Chavan says Rahul is the “third pole” of the party after Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
His presence has been felt the most in the youth wing of the party. Rahul has democratised the Youth Congress and NSUI by holding internal elections.
He personally monitored the Dec 23 Punjab Youth Congress election, which was held in consultation with former chief election commissioner J.M. Lyngdoh’s Foundation for Advanced Management of Elections (FAME).
“Rahulji wants to bring more and more youth into mainstream politics. He wants objectivity in the appointments made in IYC and introduce organizational democracy. It was with this objective that elections were held in Punjab,” said Ashok Tanwar, national president of IYC.
“Such elections would do away with sycophancy and bring in more democracy and transparency in the organisation. This would help ground workers being appointed to the posts of the organization,” said K.J. Rao, general secretary of FAME and former Election Commission official.
Tanwar said the model would be replicated in other states as well. Earlier, the Congress leadership used to directly appoint office-bearers of the youth wing.
Rahul also monitors the appointments made to the organization, for which a talent hunt was conducted recently.
“We organised a talent hunt in which shortlisted people were personally evaluated by Rahulji to judge their views on the society, social commitment and political inclination,” Tanwar said.
Youth Congress spokesperson Pradeep Kumar said Rahul would induct only those in the party who were aware of the issues of the common man.
“This is why the Aam Aadmi Ke Sipahi (the common man’s soldier) scheme has been initiated,” Kumar told IANS.
The scheme was launched in September in Andhra Pradesh. Under it, a district coordinator from the Youth Congress trained solely to bridge the gap between government schemes and the people will directly handle public grievances.
The focus is on ensuring that the Congress-led government’s flagship scheme National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREG) is implemented in earnest.

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