NEW DELHI: Ahead of the 2019 general elections, Rahul Gandhi wants to reorient the party’s youth organisations—Youth Congress and NSUI—so that they play a more active role and mobilise young voters in favour of the Congress.
The move stems from an internal report following the 2014 national polls which said that the BJP’s prime ministerial nominee, Narendra Modi, was able to connect with young voters better than the Congress, said party insiders. Besides, Rahul has always wanted to integrate the two organizations with the main party to make the Congress a better election fighting machine, the sources said.
After Rahul became Congress president in December 2017, the plan to reorient the youth wings was given a go-ahead.
As a first step, Rahul has asked veterans like Ashok Gehlot, P Chidambaram, Salman Khurshid, Sam Pitroda, Jairam Ramesh and Shashi Tharoor to train the volunteers of the youth wings in their areas of their expertise as also in how to be a better politician.
Last week, Gehlot, Chidambaram and Ambika Soni addressed a national conclave of the Youth Congress. Plans are afoot for a similar gathering of the National Students Union of India, which is present in colleges and universities across the country.
“We are now focused on making NSUI a serious organisation, providing a platform for idealistic liberal politics and requisite training for emerging young leaders, and opening up the party for young people,” Ruchi Gupta, AICC joint secretary in charge of NSUI, told this paper.
Poll-bound Karnataka thus became the laboratory where several town halls (interactions between local youth and Congress leaders) were held over the past few weeks. “The model will be replicated in other states gradually,” said Gupta.
In a first, the NSUI is starting a month-long crash course in public policy for youth from outside who will be given talks by Chidambaram, Khurshid, Pitroda, Ramesh and Tharoor.
Rahul, who was made AICC general secretary in charge of Youth Congress and NSUI in 2007, had democratized the units by holding internal polls. He even pushed for party tickets for leaders who had worked with the Youth Congress in various state and national polls.
After becoming party vice president in 2013, Rahul deployed the organisations to launch protests on various issues, but still a need to bridge the gap between them and the main party was felt, the sources said, expressing the hope that things would change soon.