Infusing Young Blood in Congress - Rahul Gandhi's Mission Put to Work in Karnataka
Daijiworld Media Network
Jul 14: The BJP in Karnataka is knotted in its own quagmire of internal bickering which may not show any sign of abating despite Jagadish Shettar fulfilling his desire. While BJP’s woes seem to be never ending, Congress youth icon Rahul Gandhi, who is projected as the future prime minister of India, has been working silently but resolutely to flush out old hands and infuse fresh blood in the party and thus strengthen Congress party’s at the grass root level in a bid to prepare itself for the impending elections. Since the elections to the state assembly are just a year away, Rahul has begun his preparations in advance to give a proper direction for the Congress party in its bid to recapture power in the state.
It looks as though the representation submitted to Rahul Gandhi by the youth wing of the party during the recently held Youth Congress Working Committee Meeting in Hubli to reserve at least 40% of positions/seats for youngsters in the coming elections, had an impact on Rahul. Rahul Gandhi has now worked out a strategy wherein it is believed that at least 45 senior Congress leaders who are ticket aspirants for the forthcoming elections in the state will be ousted despite their best efforts to safeguard their fortress by all means. In other words he has sent a direct message to the old guards that at least 45 youngsters should be given a chance to fight in the next assembly elections. This also means that young and aspiring Congress leaders need not be at the clemency of those senior Congressmen, many of them just a spent force, to get tickets in the elections.
Sources within the Congress reveal that this time around Rahul Gandhi is bent upon giving an opportunity for youngsters and thus set up a strong second -rung leadership in the Congress party in the state. Sources also say that as a first step in this direction Rahul Gandhi has initiated steps to conduct done a special survey and shortlisted the names of 45 probable candidates. He has also invited their details to Delhi to help him zero in the names of these candidates. These probable candidates will be called to Delhi recently for an interview for finalizing their names by Rahul Gandhi.
Needless to say this move has not gone down well with Congress old guards who have been trying all the tricks up their sleeves to safeguard their fortress, which they feel the youngsters are eyeing unabashedly. The move has also prompted many senior Congressmen to do a soul searching and take corrective measures to set their house in order. These has not deterred Rahul Gandhi as he is particular about setting a precedent in Karnataka by showing the door to the old guards and repeat the same in other states which are going for elections in the near future.
According to AICC sources in this painstaking task of finalizing the candidature of 45 candidates Rahul Gandhi is seeking help and cooperation of senior Congressman Mallikarjuna Kharge’s son Priyank Kharge. Priyank Kharge is the Vice President of State Youth Congress and Rahul Gandhi is increasingly relying on his feedback to help him decide to zero in on the final names. Apart from details of probable candidates Rahul has also sought information on the probable candidates constituency, details of winners in both assembly and Lok Sabha in the last elections, caste equations, names of two probable candidates of other political parties, probable names of two candidates of Congress, achievements of former Congress MLA’s from the constituency and much more. Final action in this regard is said to be left to Rahul Gandhi.
Rahul Gandhi, however, is not entirely relying on the state Congress leaders to get the feedback on the probable candidates. AICC sources say that a special team has been sent from Delhi under the leader of an AICC functionary to the state, to collect more details of those youth leaders who sought tickets for the coming elections, their background, details about their constituency and many such details. This team has been assigned the task of secretly visiting these constituencies to know the reaction of the general public to their candidature, their capacity to win elections if given the ticket, the pros and cons of giving ticket to a particular candidate, caste calculations and such other details. For a change, the secret team is said to be relying on the public to garner information and has deliberately evaded talking to Congress party leaders and workers. As such, though there are thick rumours about the secret team carrying out a survey in the state, none of the Congress leaders have any information who, where and when such information is being collected. The final selection of the names of the candidates hinges on the information of this survey.
Upon getting a clue about the process of selection, many young aspirants within the Congress have already entered the battleground to start nurturing their constituency. Even among these young aspirants there is a sizeable section that enjoy political clout, courtesy their fathers and naturally they have the head-start advantage. Leading the pack of race of these young Turks are state Youth Congress President Rizwan Arshad and Priyank Kharge, Mallikarjuna Kharge’s son. Former CM Dharam Singh’s son Ajay Singh, Siddaramaiah’s son Rakesh, former MLA K N Rajanna’s son Rajendra and another former MLA Gaviyappa’s son Gurudutt are some of the young aspirants who are trying to get into the shoes of their fathers.
Even the fresh first generation political aspirants are not lagging behind in their efforts to make the best of this opportunity coming their way. Interestingly, this trend is not confined to assembly elections alone. Though the next general elections are slated only for 2014, aspiring candidates have begun their serious preparations for the next parliamentary seats in the state. Mohan Asundi, Dharwad District Youth Congress President and Shakir Sanadi former M P I G Sanadhi’s son are eyeing the seats of Dharwad Parliamentary division. Meanwhile there is a hitch for first generation aspirants trying to make an entry into politics. With sons of most senior Congressmen in the fray one is not sure how many young fresh faces will be able to give vent to their dream of getting tickets to contest elections.
Nevertheless, it is a welcome move by Rahul Gandhi in his attempt to lure more youth into Congress fold. Unlike the present Karnataka legislative assembly where only 8 candidates out of the 224 are below 34 years, we can expect the next assembly to be a mixture of young and not so young if Rahul Gandhi sticks to the process he has begun – that of giving at least 45 tickets to youngsters in the next elections. He has made a good beginning in the right direction. We can only say well begun is half done.