The appointment of Rahul Gandhi as general secretary of the All India Congress Committee signals that the party is gearing up for the next Lok Sabha and assembly elections. But more importantly, it marks the realisation that for the Grand Old Party to remain more than just relevant today, it has to invest in its future. The injection of new blood has been in the offing for at least a year, with party functionaries routinely raising the demand for the Gandhi scion to assume a key role in the organisation. Along with Mr Gandhi, several young faces have been inducted into various arms of the party. Ajay Maken is now a permanent invitee to the Congress Working Committee and Alka Lamba, Harender Mirdha, Jitin Prasada, Madhuk Yashki, Meenakshi Natarajan and Priya Dutt are now secretaries. The group to look into future challenges comprise, among others, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sandeep Dikshit and Sachin Pilot. With this reorganisation and the number of fresh faces that have finally come in, the party has made it clear that it is looking to cast its net wide among the youth. Better late than never.
Given India’s demographics, in which half the population is young, this is a wise move that should have been implemented much earlier. The entry of young people has not been at the cost of experienced leaders who are present at every level of decision-making in the Congress. Mr Gandhi’s entry should spur the party and its younger leaders, who have been eager to play a greater role in its fortunes. Those who have come in have proved their acumen during the last Lok Sabha and various assembly polls. The Congress has learnt a few lessons from its rivals like the BJP, who had already opened the doors to a younger generation. The timing of the Congress move is such that GenNext will also be able to benefit from the experience of their seniors in running the party. What is required is not the inclusion of youth for the sake of youth, but young workers who have new things to bring to the table.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi has for some time indicated that she would like to delegate some of the burden of the running of the vast organisation and focus on the future vision. With Mr Gandhi and his team in place, she can now do that. While they may lack the political skills of the older generation, the younger lot have invariably demonstrated the ability to connect with people. They are also going that extra mile to prove their worth. The Congress now has all the paraphernalia in place to move ahead. This will not be lost either on rivals or its own often critical allies.