Caste and religion are no bar, but age is. At least, in the Indian Youth Congress. Last Friday, Pankaj Tewari, then the Indian Youth Congress’s (IYC) Uttar Pradesh central zonal chief, was expelled for faking his age to enter the dream team Rahul Gandhi.
Tewari was past the Youth Congress age limit of 35 years.
Chandan Yadav, too, has paid for not declaring his age. He was IYC general secretary and later became the Bihar unit chief. But Yadav forgot to tell his leaders that he was past the age limit.
Although the IYC tolerated leaders of 45 years and above for many decades, Rahul Gandhi has issued strict instructions that the aspirants, electees and appointees must produce original documents to prove their age.
Tewari, however, faked even his original age proof document.
The message sent out by the 39-year-old All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary is clear: He will not tolerate any manipulation or oversight, no matter who is involved. He also wants scrutiny to be a continuous process.
“Rahulji is very strict about such things. Action has been taken since he assumed charge in September 2007 whenever we received any complaints against people who resorted to dubious means or any form of violence…This has had a salutary effect on others,” said Jitendra Singh who assists Gandhi as AICC secretary.
To ensure fair play, a team is first dispatched to inquire into a specific complaint and send its report. Then both the complainant and the defender’s versions are considered.
Since a disciplinary action committee has not yet been formally set up, Gandhi, Singh and IYC chief Ashok Tanwar take a final call in each case.
Even after one makes it to the upper echelons of the IYC, one cannot sit back and bask in his newfound glory. Everybody’s performance is assessed and measured against a ready checklist that includes his contribution to IYC activities and his ethical behaviour.
“If someone is found not up to the expectations, corrective measures are taken,” said Tanwar.
Those who do not perform in one area are sometimes redeployed in another field that is more in tune with their capacity and interests.