Rahul Gandhi hunts for youth talent in UP | india | Hindustan Times
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Rahul Gandhi hunts for youth talent in UP

india Updated: Jul 10, 2009 15:02 IST
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Buoyed by the Congress' unexpected success in the Lok Sabha elections, the Youth Congress is busy talent hunting in Uttar Pradesh, a keenly-watched exercise overseen by Rahul Gandhi.

With Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi determined to recruit more and more youngsters committed to secular ideals, the Young Congress too is seeking to come alive in the country's most populous state.

It conducted four rounds of interviews on June 16, 18, 21 and 24 in Lucknow, Allahabad, Jhansi and Meerut.

"Rahulji wants to use the Youth Congress as a tool to woo youngsters to Indian politics," Youth Congress national president Ashok Tanwar told IANS.

From nine seats in 2004, the Congress won 21 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats from Uttar Pradesh, just marginally below the Samajwadi Party and ahead of both the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

In this year's Lok Sabha elections, 11 Youth Congress members were given the party ticket across the country. Nine won.

Although no Youth Congress member was fielded from Uttar Pradesh, the party wants to strengthen itself in the sprawling state which it dominated for decades before getting reduced to an also-ran from the late 1980s.

The talent hunt is aimed at this.

The programme is the brainchild of Gandhi to open the doors of politics to youngsters without political lineage.

Ever since he has taken to politics, he has realised that the main reason young people shun the political arena is they feel they cannot get space in political parties unless they have godfathers -- or relatives.

"The talent hunt is a gateway for those who want to get into politics but find it difficult," Virender Singh Rathore, national general secretary of the Youth Congress, told IANS.

According to Rathore, any young person can walk in for the interview that its leaders conduct.

Rathore, who is also the Youth Congress in-charge in Uttar Pradesh, said that for a smooth conduct of the talent hunt, the state has been split into four zones: east, west, central and Bundelkhand.

Youngsters entering the Youth Congress are also tested on their vision for India, their social and political commitment, and their decision-making capabilities.

The next step in Uttar Pradesh would be organisational elections in the Young Congress, its leaders said.

The Youth Congress successfully held similar elections last year in Punjab and recently in Gujarat.

To help conduct the polls, Rahul Gandhi had roped in the Foundation for Advanced Management of Elections (FAME) to ensure that the elections are free and fair. Heading the NGO is former chief election commissioner JM Lyngdoh.

Tanwar said that these elections were the efforts of Rahul Gandhi to bring "transparency and democracy" into the Youth Congress.