As the Congress waits for a revamp of the AICC, party general secretary Janardan Dwivedi Thursday called for fixing an age-limit for holding “active posts” in the organisation. The veteran’s call for a generational shift and setting a 65 or 70 age ceiling for occupying active posts provoked a debate in the party on whether the old guard was preparing itself to make way for the younger lot.
Dwivedi, who will turn 69 next week, virtually set the cat among the pigeons with his call. “After a certain age, people should not hold active posts in a political organisation, active posts which require much running around and physical ability… I am not saying that they should retire, but such active posts which require a lot of running around and physical capacity should be held by the younger people,” he said. Dwivedi said generational shift is a natural process which has to happen.
He said there are other responsibilities which the older leaders can take up in the party. “There are all kinds of committees for deliberations and (there are) other responsibilities. They can give their contribution in many ways,” said Dwivedi, who is in-charge of the organisation.
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He, however, made it clear that age-limit should not be applicable for the post of Congress president and members of the Congress Working Committee, the highest decision and policy-making body of the party.
Similarly, the President of India, Vice President and Prime Minister may also be treated as exceptions. “There is a resolution of the Congress Working Committee that no leader should hold two posts but the Congress president and the Prime Minister have been kept off it,” he said.
Dwivedi’s remarks, in response to questions on the BJP dropping veterans L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi from the powerful Parliamentary Board and setting up a mentors’ panel to accommodate them, triggered a debate in the party both over its timing and intent. While many felt the old war horse may have foreseen a generational shift and hence was preparing the ground for the eventuality, Dwivedi said he has been holding this view for long, even when he was in the youth movement.
Dwivedi is the third oldest among the 12 general secretaries of the Congress, Ambika Soni and Madhusudan Mistry being older than him.