Youth Congress and NSUI under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi Waning Glory
From the time Rahul Gandhi was appointed General Secretary of the All Indian Congress Committee, and was entrusted with the charge of frontal organisations—Youth Congress and National Students Union India—both organisations have undergone several changes in their organisational functioning. These organisations that once had presence in every nook and cranny of the country and were the backbone of the Congress party have lost their glory. After Rahul Gandhi assumed the charge of the Youth Congress and National Student Union India in 2008, he introduced a new system of internal organisation elections.
According to the new system, the office-bearers are elected through elections conducted at a village, mandal, district, state and national levels. In order to democratise the organisation and to provide an opportunity to every common man to participate in the organisation, and to prevent the money from flowing in, political influence and muscle power, the past system of nominating the office-bearers has been discontinued. Rahul Gandhi’s idea is to convert mass-based organisation into cadre-based organisation.
Started in the early days of emergency rule (1975), under the leadership of the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s son Sanjay Gandhi, the Youth Congress has been instrumental in implementing the ideology of the party and executing the 20-point programme. Since then, it has gradually developed with well-networked cadre in every state. The organisation has provided a platform for the young leaders to enter political life. Most of the leaders in the Congress party started their career as Youth Congress activists. Leaders like Ambika Soni, Information and Broadcasting Minister, Anand Sharma, Commerce and Industry Minister, Kamal Nath Urban Development Minister, Ahmed Patel, political secretary to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, ND Tiwari former Union Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Health & Family Affairs Minsiter, Bhupender Singh Hooda, Chief Minister of Haryana, Mukul Wasnik, Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment ,Gurudas Kamat Minister of State for IT & Telecommunication, Manish Tewari, spokesperson of All India Congress Party, have been the office-bearers in Youth Congress. It goes without saying that they have been successfull in their political career.
Similarly, the students wing, National Students Union of India was started in 1971. Over a period of time, its influence has spread to all leading universities in India. Leaders like Ajay Maken, Sports Affairs Minister, Ashok Gehlot, Chief Minister of Rajasthan, and Mukul Wasnik, Union Minister, began their career from NSUI.
In 2008, Rahul Gandhi started recruiting young talented individuals from various fields into Youth Congress. He termed initiative “Talent Hunt” to motivate young people to join the party. The talent hunt programme was unable to attract talented people.
Rahul Gandhi, Member of Parliament from Amethi, has failed in his promise to do away with considerations of dynasty, patronage and financial clout from Youth Congress and NSUI. It has been observed that a person needs to shell out a substantial amount as nomination fee (in Tamil Nadu nomination fee, if he or she wants to become a delegate of state committee is Rs 7500, for Lok Sabha committee Rs 5000, for assembly committee Rs 3000). Hence, an aspiring office-bearer with deep pockets sponsors them, thereby allowing money power to have a role in the elections. According to party sources, in Tamil Nadu, the present Youth Congress President Mr Yuvaraj, GK Vasan loyalist and education baron, has spent Rs 3 crore, in order to win as State President. With all due respect to Mr Vasan, one must mention that he doesn’t have any past organisational experience either working in NSUI or in Youth Congress, his political backing and money power have fetched him the post of State president.
The membership programme have been organised since 2008, every state has got an overwhelming response and many youngsters have enrolled as the members, but during the time of organisational activities these enrolled members haven’t turned up. Till today, the Youth Congress has 10 million members and NSUI has more than million members across the country, but those are merely registered as members. It is noteworthy that those are sheer numbers. The youth brigade of the Congress was conspicuous by its absence on crucial occasions. During anti-corruption movement in the mid-of 2011, the 120-year-old party failed miserably to counter incessant multi-directional attack through its “yuva shakti”. While Anna Hazare emerged overnight as the anti-corruption crusader and the Anna wave swept the nation, it was left to senior leaders like Dijvijay Singh and Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari to do feeble firefighting in the absence of visible youth force.
In 2009, Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi experimented with the concept of forming a group of young men to work at the panchayat level. He launched Aam Aadmi Ka Sipahi (AAKS), a flagship programme to take the policies and schemes of United Progressive Alliance government to rural people and to connect with the people at the grassroots level. During membership drive, a large number of activists from NSUI and Youth Congress joined as AAKS volunteers. Though Aam Aadmi Ka Sipahi members are expected to work as rural volunteers, the members were recruited in corporate style. Rahul Gandhi had a mandate to strengthen the organisation at panchayat level, but the volunteers and the youth activists were not able to fulfil his dream. Within a year, the Aam Aadmi Sipahi programme was wound up.
In February 2010, at Bodhgaya, Rahul Gandhi asked a group of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe students to name three Dalit leaders below 35 years. As they were struggling for answering, he seized the opportunity and remarked, “That is why I am here. I want to create leaders from every community and region. But, so far, most of the office-bearers who got elected in Youth Congress either belonged to influential political families or enjoyed the support of veteran leaders or had financial clout.”
Addressing “Buniyad”—a Youth Congress convention: in November 2011 at North-west Delhi, Rahul Gandhi said “One thing that other parties fail to understand is that we are unique. Youth Congress reflects voices that are democratically-elected. I did not elect you people. All of you are here because of your merit.”
Although Rahul claimed an open-door policy at the much-publicised meeting in Delhi, that welcomed anybody to party fold, the truth is otherwise—the present Indian Youth Congress president Mr Rajiv Sathav, son of former minister in Maharashtra, was nominated and does not have much organisational experience either by way of working in NSUI or in Youth Congress. Most officer-bearers in national committee are still nominated by Rahul Gandhi and many State Units Presidents are scions of political families.
One of the expelled office-bearers of the Youth Congress, Mr Chamala Kiran Kumar Reddy from Andhra Pradesh, who was General Secretary in Indian Youth Congress, says that Rahul Gandhi’s idea of transforming the IYC and NSUI was good, but his advisors and inner coterie do not have political sense. “His aides who sits in 12, Tuglak Lane has opted for corporate culture, by using laptops and blackberry, which is not at all a suitable concept for a political organisation,” he pointed out.
Despite adopting a corporate style of functioning, working on laptops, updating status on social networking sites, the updated websites of Youth Congress and NSUI have overlooked even a mention of the history of organisations or any past achievements or past history of Presidents. Both websites serve to blow Rahul Gandhi’s trumpet on his behalf by highlighting more about the goals and achievements of Rahul Gandhi’s mission and his action plan.
At 41, Rahul is seen by a majority of Indians as a reluctant entrant to politics and less deserving in comparison with his sister of the crown that his ambitious Italian mother Sonia Gandhi wants to put on his head a.s.a.p (as soon as possible).
By CH Prashanth Kumar