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Rahul tests future Cong leaders with interviews, grades

Pulling strings will no longer help Congressmen climb the organisational ladder. But a 30-minute interview might.

india Updated: Sep 13, 2015 21:58 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Rahul Gandhi

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi meeting with farmers at 10 Janpath in New Delhi on Saturday. (PTI Photo)

Pulling strings will no longer help Congressmen climb the organisational ladder. But a 30-minute interview might.

Young, aspiring workers who want to make it to the big league will have to clear an interview with party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who is on a talent search to identify future leaders.

The exercise, which Gandhi had earlier initiated in the Youth Congress without much success, will see him interview around 200 party leaders from across the country. Each state unit has been asked to forward five names.

Sources privy to the exercise said Gandhi has already conducted at least two rounds of interviews. Though a senior functionary is also present, it is Gandhi who does most of the quizzing.

He asks candidates to identify organisational weaknesses and how they plan to address them. He also tests their knowledge of current political and socio-economic issues, taking notes throughout, sources said. The senior functionary, usually a general secretary, gives his/her own assessment of the candidates, who are then graded based on their performance.

Eliminating the nomination culture at all levels of Congress has been Gandhi’s much-desired objective.

He is keen on holding internal elections across all rungs of the organisation, including the Congress Working Committee (CWC) — the party’s highest decision making body. CWC elections were last held in 1997 during Sitaram Kesri’s tenure as party president. Here too, performance will be the only yardstick, said sources.

Those selected through the interview process will be appointed party secretaries, observers, returning officers and some will be given key assignment in states.

Gandhi has been a strong votary of opening the organisation’s doors to those who find it difficult to get through due to lack of influence and political lineage.

“Rahulji has a long-term goal and wants to build an organisation with a fine blend of young and old. We have to realise the fact that 50% of the country’s population is under 25 years of age and no one can afford to ignore that section,” said a senior functionary who was present during one of these interactions.

The process is not exactly new to the party. Gandhi used to hold interviews with ticket seekers ahead of the 2007 assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, testing their knowledge of the constituency and what they planned to do for the electorate.

He continued the practice in subsequent elections and in the Youth Congress.

In April-May 2013, India and China were caught in a three-week standoff in the Depsang flats with intense diplomatic efforts finally leading to a resolution. Indian soldiers were then eyeball-to-eyeball with Chinese troops after they set up a camp 19km inside Indian territory.

New Delhi and Beijing signed a new border pact in October 2013 to ensure peace and stability along the LAC, but the cycle of border violations continues to be an old sore in bilateral ties. Home minister Rajnath Singh is set to tour border outposts in Chumar, Chushul, Thakung and Hot Spring during his visit to Jammu and Kashmir on September 15-17, a government spokesperson said.

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