NEW DELHI: The ongoing churn in Congress could result in a paradigm shift with many of the grand oldies making way for the younger lot to take up key decision making positions. The resignation drive initiated by young leaders in support of Congress chief Rahul Gandhi is being seen as an oblique message to the veterans to follow suit so that there is a change of guard sooner than later.
A clear indication of the new action plan came from Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who dissolved all district units in the state and specified new norms to appoint their replacements. According to party sources, she made it clear that at least 50 per cent of party cadre in each district unit should be young, preferably under 40 years of age.
After Rahul took over as party chief in 2017, he brought in young leaders like Sushmita Dev, Sachin Pilot, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Gaurav Gogoi and Ashok Tanwar as office bearers in central and state units. The leadership now wants to take the exercise to the next level.
In other words, a kind of ‘margadarshan mandal’ is what awaits the old guard if it carries out the big shake-up.
But the old guard is waiting and watching. Apart from stray instances like that of P L Punia, in charge of Chhattisgarh, no one else has put in his papers. Perhaps to coerce them to fall in line, the young leaders are planning a dharna. “There are plans to have an indefinite sit-in at the AICC headquarters starting July 2. We have nothing against old leaders. It should not be seen as an old versus young divide but an effort to accept responsibility for the poll debacle,” said Virender Vashisht, who quit as secretary, overseas.
‘We now need dynamic young leaders’
As another young office bearer of a key state put it, “There is no denying that old leaders bring experience. But keeping in mind the changing aspirations of the country, we need dynamic young leaders. In 2017, Rahul brought about a balance between youth and experience when only the old guard held key party positions. I think young leaders should participate more in party affairs while the old leaders should guide them with their experience.”
The resignation drive in the party was started by the young leadership, including Pratap Singh Bajwa, vice chairman of AICC foreign affairs department, Vivek Tankha, in charge of the party’s law department, Nana Patole, in charge of Kisan Congress, Tarun Kumar, secretary in charge of Rajasthan, Deepak Singh, Congress Legislature Party leader in the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council and Yashomati Thakur, secretary in charge of Karnataka. “I resigned in support of Rahul as it was for the first time that a party in its manifesto said it will have a separate Kisan budget We lost the elections but we support our leader,” said Patole.