LUCKNOW: In a move to bring in professionalism among party leaders, the Congress on Thursday conducted an academic excercise to choose spokespersons for the party's Uttar Pradesh unit. Around 70 Congressmen, both young and old, appeared for the written test, which examined their knowledge of current affairs in general and the party in particular.
The test was followed by an interview. The candidates were given a question paper comprising 14 queries. Among the questions were the number of divisions, districts and blocks in the state, the number of Lok Sabha members that UP sends to Parliament and the total strength of UP Assembly.
They were asked to explain the main areas where the Yogi Adityanath government failed to deliver and the highlights of the Manmohan Singh government.
One major excercise was to pick three major headlines of the day and convey the party's viewpoint through a press release.
While the old guns, who were supposed to be fluent in the Congress' principles, were seen grappling with the questions, the young crowd was seemingly relaxed as they used Google's help to answer the questions on statistics.
While many were assisting each other in answering the questions, a few gave up and preferred to drop out.
Candidates were called in for personal interview depending on how well they performed in the written test conducted by the Convener for All India Congress Committee communication cell Priyanka Chaturvedi, along with team mate Rohan Gupta and UPCC chairman Raj Babbar. The 'merit list' will be released on Saturday, said the sources.
The exercise was undertaken to constitute a new team to represent the party on various media platforms ahead of the crucial 2019 elections.
The interview was no less than a gruelling academic exercise. Those, who had already gone through the one-to-one session with party interviewers were sharing their experiences with those who were still waiting for their turn. The interview revolved around the queries over Congress party vote share in respective Lok Sabha and UP Assembly elections. In expectation of difficult questions, many senior leaders were seen thronging the nearby tea-joints in search of the lap-top bearing young crowd for help.
While senior Congressmen were seen advising the youngsters to mug up minute details and figures related to party's position in respective years before facing the interview board, others were seen worried about having a twitter account and nuances of handling the social media.
On the idea of holding a written test and the interview to select party leaders, convenor Priyanka Chaturvedi claimed it was an exercise to assess the team which, she said, would be the face of the party.
"So they have to be well versed with the legacy of Congress and the issues plaguing their state," she averred. However, there were some dissenting voices also emanating at the party office over the manner of screening the leaders.
Interestingly, some gave a tough time to the interview panel as well. When a candidate from eastern UP was asked about his association with the party, he narrated his ties of over four decades with the grand old party and a decade as spokesman, effecting a long spell of silence among the panellists headed by 38-year-old Priynaka Chautrvedi.
The representation of women was also a talking point among the ranks as only five out of 70 candidates were women.