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HindustanTimes Thu,27 Nov 2014

Congress meet signals rise of Rahul Gandhi's youth brigade

Varghese K George & Aurangzeb Naqshbandi, Hindustan Times  Jaipur, January 19, 2013
First Published: 00:28 IST(19/1/2013) | Last Updated: 01:19 IST(19/1/2013)

Though Rahul Gandhi's coronation as number two in the Congress is not on the agenda of the Jaipur conclave, the takeover of the party by his youth brigade is unmistakable as a proportion of all posts in the organisation and government is set to be reserved for its younger generation.

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According to well-placed sources, one of the resolutions to be presented at the day-long AICC session - following the two-day chintan shivir (brainstorming camp) - on Sunday will call for giving 30% representation to youth in party and government posts.

This is a clear indication that GenNext, under Rahul, will soon have a major say in the party's functioning. The tone for this generational shift was set by Congress president Sonia Gandhi in her opening address on Friday.

"A significant number of participants are from the younger generation. This reflects our priorities and resonates with the demographic reality of our country," she said to applause from 120 Youth Congress and National Students' Union of India invitees.

This is the Congress' first brainstorming camp where youth have been invited to put forth their views. Only senior leaders attended the previous two such camps at Pachmarhi in 1998 and Shimla in 2003.

Senior leader Ambika Soni said credit for this went to Rahul, who entered the venue to loud applause that didn't stop for a long time - again indicating the mood in the party.

The past few years have seen a growing clamour in the Congress for Rahul to take on a larger role in the party.

"Soniaji taught us in 2004 that the organisation is more important than the government. Rahulji's thinking is the same... party first, government later," Soni said.

However, outspoken Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh said the young leader should not be pressured.

"Please allow Rahul to do his own thing. Let him define his role. Why pressure him?"

HT had earlier reported that Rahul was yet to show his inclination towards assuming the number two position in the party.

Senior leaders have maintained he can do so at a time of his choosing.


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