Rahul's charisma woos Kashmiri youth | india | Hindustan Times
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Rahul's charisma woos Kashmiri youth

Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi's charisma seems to have bolstered the Youth Congress' membership drive in Kashmir with a record 25,000 youngsters registering for membership this year. The youth wing of the Congress party had just 500 members until last year.

india Updated: Dec 07, 2011 20:34 IST
HT Correspondent

Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi's charisma seems to have bolstered the Youth Congress' membership drive in Kashmir with a record 25,000 youngsters registering for membership this year. The youth wing of the Congress party had just 500 members until last year.

"In Srinagar alone we have registered 4,700 members, 1,800 of which are women," said Yasir Pandit, a 30-year-old Srinagar-based Youth Congress leader.

Gandhi had visited Kashmir in September this year - his first visit to the Valley since 2009 - as part of the Youth Congress' membership drive. During the visit, Gandhi also interacted with students of the Kashmir University to woo the youth.

"Rahul's message that only merit, and not godfathers, will be entertained to elevate leadership within the party has given hope to the youth," said Pandit.

"We feel that under Rahul's patronage, anybody with dedication can go up the political ladder."

Pandit feels the central government's employment and housing schemes for the rural poor have changed the perception of the Kashmiris towards the Congress.

"Earlier, the Youth Congress had no significant presence. People would not even participate in funerals of Congress workers. Now, things have changed," Pandit said.

During his September visit, Gandhi had urged youth leaders in Kashmir to maintain a clean image and had stressed on "roping in educated people".

Gandhi had also encouraged the participation of rural youth in the political process by urging them to join mainstream politics.

"But the biggest problem in Kashmir is unemployment among youth. We need to involve youth and get them absorbed in mainstream India through jobs in the corporate sector," Pandit said.