Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has a new task at hand – bridging a widening generation gap in the Grand Old Party by bringing young and elder leaders together to dispense the pall of gloom that descended on party workers after a series of embarrassing electoral reverses.
As part of the initiative, Congress sources said, as many as 500 leaders, including several former Youth Congress chiefs, will put their heads together with their junior colleagues in New Delhi on December 5 to find out where the party had gone wrong and what is needed to give the party a fresh lease of life.
Some of the former Youth Congress chiefs, who moved up the organisation ladder in the past decades, are Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ambika Soni, Anand Sharma, Vayalar Ravi, Mukul Wasnik, Ramesh Chennithala, Manish Tewari, Randeep Surjewala, and Ashok Tanwar.
“We hope it turns out to be a fruitful meeting,” Indian Youth Congress chief Rajeev Satav told. Sources said these consultations would be done upon Rahul’s plans to revamp the organisation after the Congress was wiped out in the national polls five months ago. The party’s Lok Sabha tally dropped from 206 in 2009 to 44 in 2014.
The debacle in Maharashtra and Haryana Assembly elections and the bleak prospects in Jharkhand and J&K only added to the Congress workers’ worries. Sources said the brainstorming meet would also help assuage the sentiments of some of the seniors who had been anxious over their role in the new scheme of things. The elders are concerned as Rahul plans to induct younger faces into the party fold at a time when demographic pattern of the electorate is changing.
Rift in party
The differences between the young and the old guard was exposed when a group of 14 AICC secretaries urged the seniors not to speak out of turn in the media and to defend Rahul who was under attack from political adversaries.
The seniors silenced the youngsters by cautioning them to practise restraint. Though the matter has subsided, sources said, even a small controversial comment could trigger a fresh controversy.
Recently, the AICC had strongly objected to a media report that Rahul was planning to remove all the senior general secretaries in a party reshuffle. Congress sources said this was not exactly how Rahul saw things as he probably would want a blend of both youth and experience in his new team. In fact, Rahul has personally interacted with various senior leaders from across the country and discussed how to strengthen the party.
The move was aimed at aligning these senior leaders with his new plans, said the sources, who also claimed that the meeting on December 5 would provide a platform to younger leaders to interact with the seniors and exchange ideas.
A few months ago, members of the Youth Congress had protested against the Narendra Modi-led government for not delivering their poll promises during its 100 days in the office. Also, the party recently came up with a booklet highlighting the U-turns of the BJP government at the Centre.
The Congress suffered huge setbacks in the Lok Sabha elections in May this year. The party won only 44 seats compared to BJP’s 282.