Rahul Gandhi has vetoed the recommendation of a panel to scrap internal polls in the Youth Congress on the grounds that they were marred by political and money clout.
A source in the Youth Congress said the team set up by Rahul Gandhi to suggest changes in organisational elections at the Youth Congress had concluded that the much-touted democratisation process had led to rampant corruption, use of money and muscle power and was subverted by senior leaders to benefit their children.
However, the recommendation was rejected by Rahul Gandhi and the team was asked to come up with suggestions to strengthen the organisational elections.
Rahul had initiated the democratisation process in 2007 after he took over as the party general secretary in-charge of the Youth Congress and the NSUI. Organisational elections were introduced to end the “nomination culture” and open the doors of the Youth Congress to a large number of youth who may otherwise have found it difficult to join politics and occupy top posts.
Rahul had also entrusted the Foundation for Advanced Management of Elections (FAME), an independent NGO run by ex-election commissioners JM Lyngdoh, TS Krishnamurthy, N Gopalaswami and KJ Rao, to ensure the elections in the Youth Congress were free and fair. The FAME teams were asked to be on the ground to ensure candidates were not under pressure from local leaders. In a note to state leaders last year, the party had acknowledged that the current system was “susceptible to subversion with the use of money and power”.
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi too had emphasised the need to rectify the process so that newly elected Youth Congress chiefs have the discretion to build their own teams instead of constraining them to work with those who had contested against them. “The party must develop a plan to mobilise the youth, including new voters in 2019,” the note had said.
Accordingly, the team came up with a revised model which was accepted by the party leadership. One of its suggestions included barring a new entrant from contesting the polls for any top post for two years during which the person had to attain relevant experience to lead a team. Also, elections would be held at assembly, district and state levels, unlike in the past when these were conducted at block, assembly, Lok Sabha and state levels.