Congress, empower more youngsters

Former Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah blows the poll bugle as KPCC President Dinesh Gundu Rao conch shell as former minister Krishna Byre Gowda and various party leaders take part in a public rally at Hosakote on Saturday. | DH Pho

The appointment of youngsters at the helm of the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC) appears to be an indication that the winds of change are finally, though belatedly, blowing through the corridors of the party which has for long been under the stranglehold of the old-guard. New UPCC chief Ajay Kumar Lallu, a construction worker-turned-politician, is 40-years-old, while the rest of his office-bearers are in the same age group. All the veterans have now been accommodated in an `Advisory Council’. With the exit of Rahul Gandhi as Congress president, speculation was rife that the aging leaders would stage a comeback, with the young brigade being shown the door. Sonia Gandhi, the party’s interim chief, has belied their hopes. The Congress should not stop at UP and must replicate this experiment across the country, especially at the national level. While the BJP has been rediscovering itself in tune with the changing times and striking a chord with the youth, Congress has been stuck in a rut refusing to see the writing on the wall. BJP’s 54-year-old president Amit Shah has been constantly identifying and grooming youngsters for leadership positions, leaving the Congress far behind.

There has been growing consternation among young Congress leaders who feel their growth is being stifled by seniors. Recently, Tabu Rao, the wife of KPCC president Dinesh Gundu Rao, gave vent to the collective frustration of the youngsters within the party when she posted her “personal” views in a social media update titled, “What ails the Congress?” To summarise: Young leaders should not be made redundant and must be brought to the forefront; there is rampant infighting within the party; sycophants and hangers-on fill the ears of the leaders with what they want to hear, rather than what they should hear. Thus, many leaders are cut-off from ground realities; professional PR is the need of the hour as the Congress has failed to convey the story of its achievements to the voters; grassroots-level workers need to be enthused as they are confused and demotivated. 

The Congress leadership should shun its ostrich-like attitude and listen to such young and sane voices who are feeling increasingly marginalised and suffocated within the party. Though almost decimated in the recent Lok Sabha elections, the party still has a pan-India presence and is eminently suited to play the role of a strong opposition in the present circumstances. A democracy is only as good as the Opposition. If the Congress fails to embark on a course correction immediately, it can bid bye to any hopes it may have of coming to power in the near future.

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