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Congress goes for young blood, first-generation politicians in structure revamp

The Congress has long been criticised for encouraging dynastic politics. Political experts called the new appointments a step in the right direction.

india Updated: Apr 29, 2018 08:02 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Congress,Congress revamp,Congress party
Congress president Rahul Gandhi had said that one of his main priorities was to “break the wall between workers and leaders”.(PTI File Photo)

At least 30 out of 44 new secretaries appointed to assist senior Congress office-bearers in different states are first-generation politicians, signalling a shift in the grand old party’s organisational structure, in line with a speech made last month by newly anointed president, Rahul Gandhi.

Approximately 70 other young leaders have been shortlisted for similar responsibilities in the second rung of leadership in an ongoing reshuffle in the party, according to Congress functionaries familiar with the development.

The 47-year-old Rahul Gandhi, in a speech at the Congress plenary in Delhi on March 18, had said that one of his main priorities was to “break the wall between workers and leaders” and to bring people sitting on the back benches to the front lines.

Some of the first-generation politicians picked by Rahul Gandhi are Prakash Joshi from Uttarakhand, Manickam Tagore from Tamil Nadu, PC Vishunadh from Kerala, Chandan Yadav from Bihar, Shaikh Mastan Vali from Andhra Pradesh, Jitu Patwari from Madhya Pradesh and Zubair Khan from Rajasthan. Patwari was last week appointed the working president of the Congress in MP in the run-up to the elections.

“Rahul-ji has maintained that the political system can be changed only if more and more young people join politics. He has also ensured that the doors of the Congress party remain open for the common people and first generation leaders. He has kept his promise,” said Prakash Joshi, who now assists senior leader Ghulam Nabi Azad in managing party affairs in Uttar Pradesh.

Chandan Yadav, who has been made the secretary in-charge of Chhattisgarh, agrees. “He [Gandhi] has been trying for a more inclusive Congress in a real sense. That is why we see social, regional and gender balance. Even professionals from different fields have been included in the party and given responsibilities.”

The Congress has long been criticised for encouraging dynastic politics, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi repeatedly targeting the “one family” that ruled the country for 37 years since Independence.

While the shift at the second rung has started, a large section of the top leadership — apart from the Nehru-Gandhi family — comes from political families.

Political experts called the new appointments a step in the right direction, with a caveat that these secretaries should be allowed to work independently.

“This is also a good measure towards inclusive politics because a new crop of leaders from non-political families will emerge,” Delhi-based political analyst N Bhaskara Rao said.

“They should not be dictated to from Delhi. If you appoint good people, but don’t allow them to work, it will not take the party any far. There will also be a significant political dividend if they are allowed to work independently,” Rao added.

First Published: Apr 29, 2018 07:01 IST