With Congress leader Rahul Gandhi leading a campaign to attract youths through a massive membership drive in UP, other parties too have launched efforts to woo them ahead of 2012 assembly polls by launching special schemes and taking up their cause in a big way.
Opposition Samajwadi Party, which had been taking up the issue of restoration of students unions in educational institutions, has organised "chattra jagrokta saptah" (students awareness week) in October and the BJP is concentrating on "India First" campaign targeting the young generation.
"SP has been raising issues concerning students and youths like fee hike, students union elections, unemployment actively since the past three years of BSP rule in the state. Furthering this cause, a students awareness week was organised last month in educational institutions all over the state evoking an encouraging response," SP spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary said. He claimed the event saw a large number of students, especially girls, filling the 'sankalp patras' (pledges) to express solidarity with party's programmes and policies State unit president and the party's young Akhilesh Yadav would now be writing personally to all those who filled the 'patras' to thank them. The party has also launched a 'ragging helpline' which has helped freshers deal with the menace in a better way, Chaudhary said.
The Election Commission will be launching a drive to enrol those attaining 18 years of age on January 1, 2011 on the electoral rolls. All the parties have been promising tickets to active and dedicated youth workers in the coming assembly elections. The BJP too is keen not to lose out on the young voters and has launched an 'India First' campaign "to inculcate nationalist feeling" among them.
"Through this campaign we are discussing issues of national importance and security like Kashmir and international borders among the youth and raising the matters of students and youths in a peaceful manner," BJP spokesman Vijay Bahadur Pathak said.
Besides, by appointing Nitin Gadkari as national president, the party has sent a message among the people of the importance attached to the youth by the BJP, Pathak said. Under the direction of Gandhi, the Congress has, meanwhile, launched special membership drives to rope in youths in a systematic manner. "It is Rahul Gandhi himself who has been monitoring the Youth Congress and NSUI affairs under which the first phase of membership drive enrolling four lakh workers has been completed in the central zone of the state and the election process has also been completed," Congress spokesman Virendra Madan said.
Recently, Gandhi had led NSUI activists and students of three central universities to the Union HRD Minister Kapil Sibal to press for restoration of students unions there, Madan said. Gandhi had made a surprise visit to a party training camp in Lucknow "to encourage participants to be more active", he said. Rahul Gandhi assured the young participants that the future of the party was in their hands, Madan added.