It was a one-man show all the way. The longest, loudest — and repeated — applause was reserved for Rahul Gandhi. From grassroots workers to the party chief, Sonia Gandhi, everyone acknowledged him as the young face of the Congress.
“We are aware of the work done by the IYC (Indian Youth Congress) ... “I get the feeling that aab Rahulji ki gaadi rukne waali nahi hein, aur unka kaarwaan chalta hi rahega. (Now his movement will not stop. The caravan will go on,” said Sonia.
“Now it is your time,” said a party worker from Kerala, noting how at the age of 39, Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi had occupied positions of power.
The Amethi MP, on his part, urged the party organisation to break barriers so that more youth could included in the ranks, to give them tickets and harness their energy to build the nation.
In his interactions with young people during his tours, Rahul said, the ususal complaint was that the nation did not have a system of accountability. “This is making the youth, which otherwise has huge potential and responsibility in building of the nation, remain doubtful about politics.”
Rahul, who invoked Mahatma Gandhi’s message to dedicate oneself to the destitute, said the potential of the youth needs to be utilised by the party. “Youth are ready to come into politics if the hurdles are removed. They are enthusiastic and capable but simply do not get a chance (to participate and grow). We have to open the closed doors of our organisations.”
In his words: “Use of money and recommendations still exists, marring the chances of the youth worker. Work done by the cadres is not assessed properly. If problems of the party workers are not addressed, then how can we address the concerns of the larger public?”
Rahul, who made his mark in the recently concluded assembly elections where a number of young handpicked candidates made it to the legislatures, said the exercise would be repeated in the general elections. “We would provide opportunity to the most capable youth to take part in the elections.”
He said that internal democracy in youth organisations would be set as the standard all over the country. “I believe in the power of Indian youth. I would like an army of this youth built through our party organizations.”