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‘Talent scouts’ to hunt for regional Congress leaders

The absence of regional leaders, barring a few exceptions, has been a cause for concern for a long time in the Congress.

india Updated: Apr 12, 2018 08:46 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Congress,Congress leaders,Talent scouts
Congress president Rahul Gandhi speaks during National Executive meeting of All India Unorganised Workers Congress at AICC headquarters in New Delhi.(PTI File Photo)

The Congress plans a “secret” talent hunt to identify and groom potential young leaders for a larger role in the grand old party, a Congress functionary said on condition of anonymity.

The move, the person added, is part of new party president Rahul Gandhi’s strategy of reviving the party in the states, in many of which it doesn’t have strong leaders.

Detailing the plan, the functionary said teams to scout for such talent have already been formed and that they would start touring the states. The identity of the team members, the tours, and the process itself, will be kept secret to ensure that no one tries to influence the selection, he explained.

The absence of regional leaders, barring a few exceptions, has been a cause for concern for a long time in the Congress. At present, the party can boast of just a few such names — Siddaramaiah in Karnataka, Captain Amarinder Singh (Punjab), Virbhadra Singh (Himachal Pradesh), Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia in Madhya Pradesh, and Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot in Rajasthan — and several of these are actually veterans. The talent scouts of the Congress plan to look for younger leaders.

Political experts say the Congress should take a cue from Karnataka and Punjab where it allowed state leaders to play their game.

“Every party should groom their leaders but the Congress definitely needs do it more effectively as it is losing state after state. There is a lesson for the Congress from Karnataka and Punjab. In both the states, the Congress allowed Siddaramaiah and Captain Amarinder Singh to play their game. That is why the Congress won Punjab and are relatively ahead in? Karnataka,” said Delhi-based political analyst N Bhaskara Rao.

“This is certainly a good way of reviving the party. The other thing Congress should do is to identify the issues and then let these leaders work on such issues,” he said.

This isn’t the first time the Congress has embarked on such an exercise. Rahul Gandhi first tried this in the Youth Congress, the party’s youth wing, but a similar talent hunt only resulted in the rampant use of influence and money. Several leaders had also tried then to subvert the process to benefit their kin.

Gandhi is convinced the plan will work this time. According to the Congress functionary, the talent scouts will seek feedback from party workers and the general public on district- and state-level leaders. They will also elicit the views of the leaders on local and national issues before finalising their names. “This will give a chance to young people from non-political families to emerge in leadership roles and check nepotism,” the functionary said.

Gandhi’s plan is part of his effort to revive the party in states where it has been relegated to the political margins. There has been a growing realisation within the Congress that the party’s fortunes at the national level hinge on its revival in states. The party is now in power in just four states – Karnataka, Punjab, Mizoram and Puducherry.

At the party’s 84th plenary session in Delhi last month, Gandhi promised to build a “new Congress” with talented young people. He also stressed the need to change the Congress organisation, and said his first task would be to break the wall that exists between the workers and senior leaders.

First Published: Apr 12, 2018 08:39 IST