If the Lok Sabha results have fired up Prime Minister Narendra Modi to go on an overdrive reaching out to the people, the same has had just the opposite effect on his chief rival Rahul Gandhi.
Or so it seems by the way the young Congress vice-president has gone into a shell, showing little interest even in his pet projects.
Once hailed as a “youth icon” for “revolutionising” the Congress through his experiments in “democratising” the Indian Youth Congress (IYC) and the NSUI, Rahul has virtually left these frontal organizations to fend for themselves.
His more recent pet projects of holding US-style primaries to pick candidates and compiling the manifesto through public consultations —introduced in this summer’s Lok Sabha elections — were shelved by the party for Maharashtra and Haryana polls.
In 2008, he had initiated internal elections in the IYC and NSUI to end the “nomination culture” and bring youth into these without “family, money and patronage” playing a role. He would go to each state for membership drives and personally monitor the progress in IYC and NSUI.
Six years later, Rahul is nowhere to be seen as the membership drive has been made a round-the-year affair. The internal elections were supposed to culminate with the election of IYC and NSUI presidents. Rajiv Satav, who was nominated IYC chief in 2010 despite having crossed the maximum age limit of 35 years, continues to hold the post despite moving on from being a member of the state assembly to Parliament. While IYC and NSUI office-bearers used to meet several times a week, these meetings have become “rare”, said sources.
“The IYC no longer reaches out to the youth anymore through its time tested agitation approach. The entire focus has shifted from external outreach to internal processes and this is where the equilibrium got lost,” said a senior leader who had once held a key post in the Youth Congress.
The failure of the Youth Congress to rise to the occasion during streets protests by Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal had raised questions about its outreach capabilities and prompted many seniors to privately call for a re-think on the democratisation process.
Earlier this year when the Congress was fighting one of its most difficult elections ever, its young army went missing.
A year ago, following a debacle in the assembly elections, Rahul had announced that he would “transform” the party. His partymen are still waiting for him to walk the talk.
“He wants to give equal opportunity to everyone and not restrict its functioning to a limited few. He has given a good space to workers and time is not far when his democratisation efforts will be widely appreciated,” Congress spokesperson Shobha Oza said.