In what could be the first step towards a generational shift in the party, Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Monday inducted Rahul Gandhi into the organisation together with a host of young babalog at responsible positions.
Thirty-seven years old Rahul was appointed AICC general secretary in charge of the Youth Congress and the NSUI and member of the Congress Working Committee (CWC). With this the young scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family followed the footsteps of his father Rajiv Gandhi, who had also been inducted into the party in a similar capacity as AICC general-secretary in 1983.
Over the past two years, Congress workers have persistently demanded that Rahul be inducted higher up. That has grown recently, what with mid-term polls looming large.
Rahul and the young brigade are likely to influence the party’s policies and programmes through a newly set up group that looks at future challenges. The group is likely to have a very important role in shaping the party’s response to issues like Sethusamudram and the Indo-US nuclear deal. The convener of the 13-member group is Jairam Ramesh, and among the others on it are Rahul Gandhi, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sandeep Dikshit, Sachin Pilot, Prithviraj Chavan, Digvijay Singh and Veerappa Moily.
MPs Priya Dutt and Jitin Prasada and student leader Alka Lamba have been made AICC secretaries; MPs Milind Deora and Jyotiraditya Scindia were appointed members of the Department of Policy Planning and Coordination (DEPCO). There were 10 new faces in the list of 34 AICC secretaries.
Receiving greetings from party workers at her residence later, Sonia expressed happiness about Rahul’s induction. “Of course, I am happy,” she said.
The AICC headquarters at 24, Akbar Road was choc-a-bloc with party leaders celebrating the induction of Rahul in the organisation.
They were bursting crackers, raising slogans like “Long Live Rahul Gandhi”, and distributing sweets as Janardan Dwivedi made the announcement.
“This is the best thing to happen. A chance has been given to the new generation. See, 70 per cent of the voters are below 30 and they need a leader. No other party has a youth leader like Rahul who can inspire them,” said Delhi MP Jagdish Tytler.
The latest AICC reshuffle also brought a whiff of freshness at the top level of the party structure with the induction several new faces. Kishore Chandra Deo, an MP from Parvarthipuram in Andhra Pradesh, and Prithviraj Chavan, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, made a grand entry into the organisational structure.
With the addition of three new faces in the CWC — Rahul, Chavan and Deo — the total strength of the apex decision making body reached 23, leaving two vacancies. With the appointment of these three and Mohsina Kidwai as general secretaries, there were 11 general secretaries and six Permanent Invitees to the CWC in charge of different states.
Minister of State for Urban Development and New Delhi MP Ajay Maken was made permanent invitee to the CWC, in charge of Jharkhand and Orissa.
Arun Kumar, an MP from Andhra Pradesh who hit the headlines recently for taking on a media organization running a chit fund company, was upgraded from AICC Secretary to Permanent Invitee to the CWC in charge of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry.