It was a deadline they strove hard to meet but failed.
Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi had set December 2010 as the deadline for the Youth Congress to complete organisational elections across India.
But the Congress youth wing — seen as the key to the party’s future in a country where 54 per cent of 1.1 billion people are below 35 years — has completed internal polls in just 11 states since the process took off in Punjab in November 2008.
Gujarat, Haryana, Rajasthan, Puducherry, Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Tripura are the other states. The elections are also over in Chandigarh and Daman and Diu, Mumbai and a part of Uttar Pradesh, which has been divided into five zones.
Youth Congress leaders attributed the delay to the overwhelming response received by the organisation to Gandhi’s call for greater youth participation in the political system and change in the poll pattern.
The organisation has witnessed a quantum leap in its membership figure in the past two years, with enrollment having crossed 80 lakh.
“It is a massive exercise. The Lok Sabha elections also caused delay. Besides, the poll pattern has been changed a few times to make it more participative and transparent,” a Youth Congress functionary said.
Team Rahul, a handpicked group of young leaders, has been experimenting with different models. In Punjab, it adopted a three-tier organisational structure, which included block, district and state levels.
The team, which has a new deadline of mid-2011, has another challenge — to conduct repeat elections in states like Punjab where the term of office-bearers has expired or is going to expire in coming months.