Cong pitches for bigger Rahul role

Defence minister A.K. Antony and Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi at the inaugural session of the party’s three-day

Defence minister A.K. Antony and Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi at the inaugural session of the party’s three-day

Youth is the toast of the Congress’ “chintan shivir”. While the party leaders and chief ministers want general secretary Rahul Gandhi to play a greater role, the party chief Sonia Gandhi said, “We have to recognise the new changing India, an India increasingly peopled by a younger, more ‘aspirational, more impatient, more demanding and better educated generation’.
“This is a natural and welcome outcome of rapid economic and social change that has been brought about by the success of our programmes to educate, to empower and indeed to unshackle the oppressed and disadvantaged. Our youth is getting more assertive, it wants its voice to be heard,” she said.
Incidentally, this is the first brain-storming session that Rahul Gandhi is attending after joining active politics in 2004. This is because he was away from politics when the “chintan shivirs” were held in 2003 and 1998 respectively. The participation of youth too has increased in this Jaipur conclave. This was specially mentioned by its convener Ambika Soni in her welcome speech. Mr Rahul Gandhi along with Mrs Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmnohan Singh, is attending discussions on five subjects — emerging political challenges, socio-economic challenges, women empowerment, India and the world and organisational strength — in different halls of Birla Auditorium. These groups have been headed by Mr A.K. Antony, Mr Digvijay Singh, Dr Girija Vyas, Mr Anand Sharma and Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad.
Before the inaugural session, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh said that the party workers want Rahul Gandhi to play a “pre-dominant” role but viewed that the young leader should not be pressurised. The sentiment of the Congress workers is for Rahul Gandhi to play a larger and pre-dominant role, Mr Singh said.
Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot felt that Rahul Gandhi’s role in the success of the Congress party in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections cannot be ignored. “People vote differently in the Lok Sabha and the state Assembly polls,” he said.
Congress MP Sanjay Nirupam too supported an increase in Mr Gandhi’s role, “It is right time to give Rahul Gandhi a larger role,” he said adding, “No one can deny the role of the young generation in today’s India.”
Minister of state for parliamentary affairs Rajiv Shukla was more candid on the subject, “We all want Rahul Gandhiji should take a bigger role to lead us. Not just one or two, but all and sundry think the same.”
“Indeed Rahul Gandhi himself said six months back that he was ready, now is the proper time to give them more responsibility,” he added.
Mrs Gandhi cautioned youth to be simple and austere. “Seeing so many our younger colleagues here, I am tempted to say something on a subject that has always bothered me. And this relates to our lifestyles. Celebrating weddings, festivals and happy events is one thing — but what of lavish and ostentatious displays of wealth, pomp and status? Does this not beg the question, where is this wealth coming from? I hope that you will take this seriously and come up with suggestions and norms that we may all accept and adhere to,” she said.

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