Youth Congress begins process to turn into ‘fighting machine’

  • Aurangzeb Naqshbandi, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Aug 02, 2015 07:23 IST

The Youth Congress is considering a slew of changes including going back to its time-tested politics of agitation, scrapping the appraisal system and introducing a new internal election process in a bid to restore its position as the sword arm of the grand old party.

A party source said newly-appointed Youth Congress chief Amarinder Singh Raja has given strict directions to members to take to the streets on issues concerning different sections of society to help lift the Congress party’s fortunes after its massive general election defeat last year.

“Rahulji had called for suggestions to make the Youth Congress a fighting machine once again. These are now being implemented step-by-step,” a Youth Congress office-bearer said.

One of the reasons identified for the party’s poor performance in the Lok Sabha and subsequent state elections was the failure of the Youth Congress to connect with aspirational India.

“Moving from the top-down approach between 1972 and 2007, we adopted the bottom-up method in 2007. The entire focus shifted from external outreach to internal processes, and this is where the equilibrium was lost,” said a senior leader once associated with the Youth Congress.

Faced with criticism over the failures of its internal processes, the Youth Congress is contemplating major changes in its democratisation process initiated by Rahul Gandhi in 2007 when he took over as Congress general secretary in charge of the youth and student wings of the parent party.

The existing election model – under which polls are held from booth level to the president’s post in a state – is being reshaped. Organisational elections were introduced by Gandhi to end the ‘nomination culture’. However, there is a growing realisation in the party that young leaders with political patronage and lineage became its greatest beneficiaries. Many leaders also complained that money and muscle power were used to influence the poll outcome.

While one suggestion is to completely do away with elections, another proposal is to restrict it to the base level and restore the nomination process at the top.

Similarly, a colour-coded performance evaluation system introduced in 2012 by the then Youth Congress president Rajiv Satav to identify performing and non-performing office-bearers has been scrapped as it was considered flawed and susceptible to manipulation by the kin of senior leaders.

Under this ranking system, distinguished performers were identified by green, active but non-performing members by yellow and non-performers by red.

Sources said the membership process will also undergo a change with a proposal to have active members who would enroll at least 25 new members.

Gandhi had on many occasions expressed concern over the increasing trend in the party to boost numbers through fake membership. In the past, there have been allegations that leaders manipulate figures by dubious methods to outsmart their rivals and influence the outcome.

Months before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Youth Congress boasted a membership of over 1.3 crore and more than four lakh office bearers across the country. However, the young army was found missing when the Congress fought one of the most difficult elections ever.

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