Arriving in Chennai in the backdrop of strain in Congress-DMK relations following the CBI raids in connection with 2G Spectrum investigations, AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday tried to assess the mood of party's youth outfit to the continuance of the alliance with the regional Dravidian party.
A staggering 80% of the youth Congress activists assembled at Vanagaram on the outskirts of the city raised their hands in response to a question by Rahul Gandhi as to how many did not want the alliance to continue and an equal number voted their dissatisfaction over the current day politics in the state.
Although he steered clear of making any comment either way on the alliance, the AICC general secretary sent a signal by avoiding a courtesy call on the DMK patriarch and chief minister M Karunanidhi, like he has one on the past two occasions in the recent past. But he also chose to maintain silence on the issue of corruption as symbolized by the Spectrum scam.
Asserting that Tamil Nadu was very important in the scheme of things of the Congress party and said he would work to restore the pre-eminent position of the party in the state politics. "It has been 40 years since Congress came to power in the state and it will take a lot of hard work and time to bring Congress back to where it belongs," he said.
But he had no doubt that Congress was a party of the future in the state and asserted that in future the state will have a chief minister from among the youth Congress leaders.
"I assure you in the coming future, the chief minister of Tamil Nadu is going to be one among you, one among the Youth Congress members," Rahul Gandhi said to a thunderous applause of a pepped up audience.
James G Prakash, South Chennai district youth Congress president, said that the speech lifted the morale and spirits of the volunteers who are readying for the big fight in the assembly elections.
"We have clearly been told by the leadership that it is too early to decide on the alliance. Whoever it is, our job is to ensure that the party performs exceptionally well in the elections," the Youth Congress leader told Hindustan Times after the meeting.
He would however not comment on the resentment of the cadres to the continuance of the alliance, maintaining that "it is for the high command to decide. Our task is to carry out the directions of the party leadership," James added.
Later Rahul Gandhi interacted with the intelligentsia at a meeting where select few, writers, artists, environmental activists, socialites and film personalities were invited.
Although some of the intellectuals were cross that they were bunched together with the film personalities who took away more than 25 minutes, they said they enjoyed the interaction.
Senior journalist and writer TN Gopalan, one of the two media persons invited, asked Rahul Gandhi as to how he could function as he was surrounded by known unscrupulous persons.
To this the AICC general secretary smiled and said " I know, which is why we started with the Youth Congress with its revamping".
Rahul Gandhi said that he was extremely happy that Tamil Nadu was one of the most successful experiments in Youth Congress elections. He urged the cadres to participate in Panchayat elections, the success there would build the party.
"Assembly elections are very important, but more crucial to build the party are the panchayat level elections. I urge you to participate in maximum number of panchayat seats and win maximum number of them," the AICC general secretary told the Youth Congress members.