In an indication that the old guard in the Congress is preparing for handing over the baton to GenNext, senior general secretary Janardan Dwivedi on Thursday suggested that leaders beyond 65 years of age should not hold important organisational posts.
“I am not saying they should retire but posts which require a lot of running around and physical capacity should be held by young people. Elders should keep away from active posts and take up other responsibilities,” he told reporters.
Asked if he wants this formula to be applicable to 67-year-old Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Dwivedi said: “The post of Congress president has been an exception in many respects. Age restriction is not binding on this post”.
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If the Congress leadership accepts his suggestion, many general secretaries, including Ambika Soni (71), Dwivedi (69), Madhusudan Mistry (69) and Digvijaya Singh (67) apart from Treasurer Motilal Vora (85) and Sonia’s political secretary Ahmed Patel (65) will have to give way to younger leaders who would eventually work with Rahul Gandhi.
Dwivedi’s remarks come in the backdrop of the BJP’s move to drop veterans Atal Bihari Vajpayee, LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi from the party’s parliamentary board.
He, however, was quick to add that posts such as of heads of political parties, President of India, Vice President and Prime Minister should be treated as exceptions.
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Dwivedi had earlier courted controversies when he suggested economic criteria based reservation and commented on Priyanka Gandhi Vadra's interest in politics.
But he is not the first Congress leader to suggest that elders should make the way for younger generation. His colleague Jairam Ramesh had earlier proposed that those above 70 should retire from active politics.
Prior to the Lok Sabha elections, former union minister P Chidambaram, who opted out of the polls, had suggested that the Congress should give 272 out of the 543 seats to candidates below 35 years since 68% (83 crore) of the country’s population is under 35 years while 62 crore people are below 25 years.