Seniors packed off to RS, Rahul signature writ large on Cong poll plans

Gandhi seems to be following the dictum sometimes used by sports coaches: when in doubt, shake it up you might gain much but you would not stand to concede much either.

trithesh

Trithesh Nandan | January 29, 2014



Despite the flak he has copped of late, especially following this week’s interview on Times Now, Rahul Gandhi seems set to follow his youth-first mantra in the general elections.

The Congress vice-president’s repeated emphasis on the power of the youth and women during the interview was seen by critics as a method to digress from the “specific” questions, as interviewer Arnab Goswami loves to put it. But there could well be a method to Gandhi’s madness, so to speak.

Gandhi seems to be following the dictum sometimes used by sports coaches: when in doubt, shake it up – you might gain much but you would not stand to concede much either.

While the Amethi MP was known to have backed young candidates, many of them from the Youth Congress which he has nurtured in recent years, even in the last election, his grip over the ticket distribution is expected to be tighter this time around.

The first, nascent signs were visible this week, with the party nominating several candidates for the upper house. Among them were Digvijay Singh and Madhusudan Mistry, both party general secretaries and senior leaders, and both harbouring aspirations to contest the Lok Sabha elections this summer.

This comes close on the heels of the party anointing Sachin Pilot and Arun Yadav to head the state Congress ahead of assembly elections to Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, respectively. Both Pilot and Yadav are said to be close to Gandhi, and the Congress vice-president is seen to have been the man behind the decision, reportedly not initially favoured by Digvijay Singh.

The party, according to insiders, is next planning to give responsibility to several other youth leaders to head their respective state units.

Among other nominees to Rajya Sabha is Kumari Selja, who immediately resigned as a union minister. She goes to the upper house from Haryana. While Selja is said to be close to the Gandhi family, she is also known as a detractor of Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda. Her nomination is being seen as creating space for her to work for the Lok Sabha elections.

Sanjay Singh, a known detractor of the Gandhis in the last couple of years and also a member of parliament from Sultanpur, was nominated from Assam. The decision is being seen as a move to placate Singh, who is rumoured to have been toying with the idea of joining the BJP and take on Rahul Gandhi from the Amethi seat. Known as ‘Raja of Amethi’, Singh is said to enjoy considerable clout in the area, and the decision to move him to Rajya Sabha comes in the backdrop of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Kumar VIshwas’s ambition to fight against Gandhi from his family borough.

KVP Ramachandra Rao, MA Khan and T Subbarami Reddy, Murli Deora, Hussain Salam and Motilal Vora are RS members who will get another term.
Significantly, senior party leader and finance minister P Chidambaram had suggested earlier this month that the Congress should reserve part of the 543 tickets in Lok Sabha for candidates below 35 years.

The Congress had given tickets to several youth leaders in the last Lok Sabha elections and most of them had gone on to win. With charges of corruption and leading a lame duck government coming thick and fast against the UPA, Gandhi sure would be looking at his youth brigade to make an impact this time around, too.

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