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Youth Congress loses battle to shed family,patronage,money

India is an old country,but a young nation; and like the young everywhere we are impatient.

Written by D K Singh | New Delhi |
January 22, 2011 2:59:40 am

India is an old country,but a young nation; and like the young everywhere we are impatient. I am young and I too have a dream”: Rajiv Gandhi,Joint Session of the US Congress,1985.

In September 2007 when he was appointed general secretary in charge of the Youth Congress (IYC) and the National Students Union of India (NSUI),Rahul Gandhi,too,had set out with a dream — to end the role of “family,patronage and money” to bring youth into politics. There was to be zero tolerance for people with criminal background.

Three years later,as another organisational reshuffle is in the offing,Rahul’s dream remains unrealised with party veterans manipulating internal elections in the Youth Congress and a host of people with questionable background gaining entry into it.

Last month,Youth Congress leader from Bihar Mayank Kumar was arrested in an alleged murder case. Before that,another IYC leader in Sitamarhi,Amit Kumar Tunna,had been arrested under the Arms Act. In the run-up to the Assembly elections in Bihar,when Union Minister Mukul Wasnik was holding a meeting with senior Congress leaders at party headquarters in Patna,Youth Congress activists had locked the main gate preventing them from going out for several hours; they were demanding tickets. Bihar Youth Congress is led by Lallan Kumar,known to be a confidant of former RJD strongman Sadhu Yadav.

In November last year,Mumbai Youth Congress president Sadaf Aboli issued show cause notices to 7 office-bearers and suspended 11 others for indiscipline and violation of rules. Incidentally,Aboli,who was elected MYC president last year,had faced externment proceedings after an attack on a Wilson College professor in 2008.

Asked about it,Aboli told The Indian Express,“There were three cases against me… All three were of political nature… and all these cases were brought to the notice of senior leaders before elections.”

North Mumbai Youth Congress district president Devesh Shirodkar’s name had reportedly figured in an attempt to murder case,while his counterpart from South Mumbai district Dhananjay Kuveskar had reportedly been booked in a dowry harassment case. Another office-bearer named Sandeep Pansande had reportedly been named in an alleged molestation case.

Asked about these cases,Aboli said,“Shirodkar has been cleared of the case… Pansande was suspended three months ago. Kuveskar’s case is of personal nature involving his entire family…. Such cases are not a hurdle in contesting Youth Congress polls.”

Maqsood Khan,UP East Zone president of the Youth Congress,was alleged to have a criminal background. As per details furnished by a senior UP Youth Congress leader,Khan had been booked under the Gangster Act,Arms Act and attempt to murder,among others. He was also an accused in a case of kidnapping for extortion. The IYC conducted an inquiry and gave him a clean chit maintaining the cases were “politically motivated”.

Recently,Youth Congress leaders from Andhra Pradesh called on the Central leadership and were learnt to have handed over documents about criminal background of many District Youth Congress presidents in the state. Sources said that IYC leadership was seized with a host of other complaints about the background of elected Youth Congress office-bearers in different states.

This comes at a time when the IYC leadership still remains clueless about how to prevent senior leaders from scuttling the democratisation process in the IYC. Apprehensive of a new generation of leaders emerging through internal elections in IYC,who could challenge them in future with the backing of the party’s heir apparent,Congress veterans have managed to manipulate the membership drive and the process of elections to get their own relatives or henchmen elected as its office-bearers,according to IYC sources.

While AICC secretary in charge of IYC Jitendra Singh and IYC president Rajiv Satav were not available for comment despite repeated calls on their mobile phones,IYC leaders contended that most of the charges against Youth Congress leaders were “motivated”. “Rahulji is very clear. Nobody with a criminal background is accepted. Whenever any complaint comes,we conduct investigations and take action accordingly. Besides,Foundation for Advanced Management of Elections (FAME),which is run by former Election Commissioners,is overseeing our elections,” said a Youth Congress leader.

With inputs from Rakshit Sonawane in Mumbai and Santosh Singh from Patna

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