Youth Congress to address anomalies in internal polls
The Youth Congress will address the anomalies in the ongoing internal election process to make the organisation more inclusive, its newly-appointed chief Keshav Chand Yadav said on Saturday.
“We have increased the posts of office bearers and kept them reserved for those who could not get into the organisation through internal elections,” he said.
“The Youth Congress has witnessed several changes in its democratisation process in the past 7-8 months and will not shy away from further amending the system to address the anomalies,” Yadav added.
Explaining the proposed changes, Youth Congress spokesperson Amrish Ranjan Pandey said those leaders with good oratorical skills will be appointed as spokespersons and media panelists in states and at the national level, while others will be accommodated in the research and social media departments.
The Youth Congress and the National Students Union of India (NSUI) are among the five frontal organisations of the grand old party. The remaining three are Mahila Congress, Sewa Dal and the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC).
After taking over as the general secretary in-charge of the Youth Congress and the NSUI in 2007, Rahul Gandhi decided to bring about internal democracy by holding elections in both the organisations.
Concerned over the dominance of money and nepotism, Gandhi introduced polls to break the trend of political scions and financially-strong candidates getting plum posts.
Subsequently, the election process was kicked off in December 2008 in Punjab and later held across the country.
According to the election model launched then, members aged between 18 and 35 elected a five-member committee in each booth. These booth-level committees would in turn elect 10-member committees each at three levels — the legislative assembly, Lok Sabha and the state.
“This resulted in a significant increase in the electoral college, making it difficult to influence the voter with money or muscle power,” said a Congress leader, who was then a part of the team set up to suggest different models of internal elections.
This model was changed in 2014 following reports that young leaders with political patronage and lineage continued to be the greatest beneficiaries of the internal elections.
According to the new structure, the Youth Congress maintained a five-level structure across India.
At the grassroots, members were organised by their polling booth. An electoral college, comprising of elected office bearers at the panchayat and assembly levels, in turn elected office bearers at the Lok Sabha and state levels.
Committees were formed at the panchayat, assembly, Lok Sabha and state levels through secret-ballot elections.
Finally, the functionaries were nominated from a pool of elected office bearers across India.
The Youth Congress, which claimed to have 13 million members in 2013, had come under criticism from party leaders for not coming to the aid of the Congress when it was fighting one of the most difficult elections of its history in 2014.
After that debacle, Congress leaders trained their guns at the Youth Congress, claiming it was filled with people who preferred armchair politics and shied away from the heat and dust of an election campaign.
“From top-down approach between 1972 and 2007, we moved to bottom-up method 2007 onwards. The entire focus shifted from external outreach to internal processes and this is where the equilibrium got lost,” said another senior leader who once headed the Youth Congress.
Over the years, the Youth Congress was also blamed for its failure to connect with youngsters who moved away from it in the wake of Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement in 2011.
But Youth Congress vice-president BV Srinivas expressed confidence that the outreach activities of the organisation will once again restore its status as the “sword arm” of the grand old party. He cited victories in the recent university elections to buttress his point and claimed that the young generation is once again looking at the Congress as a credible option.
In 2017, the NSUI won the student body polls in Delhi University and Panjab University.
Even in Rajasthan, the NSUI improved its past performance in student body polls.