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Youth brings in freshness, commitment: Meenakshi

It has infused a new vigour among the Youth Congress cadres. Among the Congress candidates, there are many below the age of even 30 and seven or eight of them are Youth Congress office-bearers.

india Updated: Nov 17, 2003 17:39 IST
Ashutosh Shukla
Ashutosh Shukla

State Youth Congress (YC) president Meenakshi Natrajan is a strong votary of predominant role to youths in politics. She is convinced that they bring into political scenario a freshening vigour, are more committed and have a better understanding of the complexities of the post-modern era. But, do the Youth Congress cadres; notorious for hooliganism and lack of intellectual profundity, have done any good to the party or the State at large while the Congress reigned in Madhya Pradesh for an unbroken 10-year stint. Natrajan spoke to Ashutosh Shukla on a number of issues concerning youth & politics.

Q. What is your brief for the forthcoming elections?

A. Youth Congress has planned programmes at different levels. While the district Youth Congress committees will be responsible for holding public meetings, block Congress committees will hold workers’ meeting to equip the cadres with party manifesto, achievements of Congress government in the State over the past decade and failures of Central Government. This will allow the cadres to be on the offensive during the campaigning. We shall also hold wardwise meetings in urban areas and panchayat-level meetings in villages to equip the booth presidents and booth committees with the wherewithal of booth management.

Q. Will the booths be exclusively manned by Youth Congress cadres?

A. It will mainly be youth and women.

Q. Do you think Youth Congress cadres will take such menial jobs seriously?

A. I am thankful to Party president Sonia Gandhi, All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary Ambika Soni and Central Election Committee (CEC) of the party for awarding maximum seats to youths in the State. It has infused a new vigour among the Youth Congress cadres. Among the Congress candidates, there are many below the age of even 30 and seven or eight of them are Youth Congress office-bearers.

Q. Then, why didn’t you ask for a ticket?

A. The Party president wished me to work for the organisation. It has not been more than a year that I became the State Youth Congress president. My job with the Youth Congress is still unfinished. If I had asked for a ticket, I would not have been able to devote much time for the outfit nor I would have been able to monitor the electioneering assignments of Youth Congress.

Q. When you took over as the YC president, you had grand plans to revitalize, re-energize the outfit. Have you been able to fulfill that aspiration?

A. Youth Congress has come a very long way in the State. I have been largely successful in transforming this outfit once called ‘intellectually bankrupt’ into an organisation aware of its social and political obligations. The State Youth Congress has surpassed the Guinness book of world records in collecting maximum blood by a particular outfit in one go. We organised lectures at the block level to equip our cadres with contemporary issues and concerns and enrich them ideologically.

Q. But, of late party of oldies- the BJP, seems more youthful particularly in MP.

A. No, average age of ministers in State Cabinet is less than that of the Union Cabinet and so is the case with Congress MLAs in the State as compared to BJP MPs.

Q. But, you are talking about the previous elections. But, now the BJP from top to bottom looks youthful in Madhya Pradesh at least.

A. No. It is not true. Only the Congress has the guts to pit a young girl like Alka Lamba against BJP veteran Madanlal Khurana. And you must look at the wider picture to get a true perspective in this regard. More than 50 per cent of the persons being elected to local bodies both in urban and rural areas are youths and many of them are being fielded in the Assembly elections as well. That is how youth is making a big dent in the electoral system and this change is welcome.

Q. As more and more youth come to dominate politics, people are getting less and less involved in it. They are in fact, developing a kind of aversion to politics. What are the reasons for it?

A. See, it is a transitory phase. Earlier Congress dominated the political scene with almost no rival. Now you have endless number of parties. Earlier, leaders used to be old, gray-haired gentlemen whom people respected and adored. But, now their expectations have changed. They wish to have representatives who are more friendly, more caring and intimate. Values have also undergone a change. With the economy going global and the era of consumerism dawning in India, thought and conduct are becoming more and more westernized and youths fit in, in this changing political scenario very well.

Q. Compared to the youth wing of other parties, how do you rate Youth Congress?

A. NSUI has fared well in students’ election at Delhi, Kanpur, Allahabad, Chandigarh and a lot of other prestigious universities. As far as Youth Congress as against Bhartiya Janta Yuva Morcha (BJYM) in MP is concerned, they are nowhere near us. BJYM is a redundant outfit in MP. And, then they don’t consider themselves to be part of the BJP but we are not only part of
the Congress but are proud of Congress legacy.

Q. You seem to have become considerably sedate after your comments on the Prime Minister on cow slaughter backfired.

A. No, Youth Congress never made a personal attack on the Prime Minister for beef eating or anything but BJP wished to make cow protection an issue in the Hindi heartland. We had raised certain questions and BJP never cared to give sufficient answers to them. Their intention was to communalise atmosphere in MP using cow slaughter as a ploy. They don’t raise this issue in Goa or Nagaland. In MP cow slaughter is already banned and Congress Government had done it not any Jan Sangh Government. Cow protection has always been an issue raised by the Congress more due to economic reasons than religious. Abdul Gani Khan of Madhya Pradesh had first raised the demand in 1920,which Gandhiji later incorporated in his agenda. But, they offered to bring a Central legislation for ban on cow slaughter. The Congress opposed the move.

Q. What are the chances of the Congress in this election?

A. We are poised to win with a greater majority. Development model adopted by Digvijay Singh Government in the State is being emulated elsewhere also. It is the model that seeks to empower people at the grassroots. We are hoping to win by a comfortable majority in the State.

First Published: Nov 17, 2003 17:39 IST