Meenakshi Natarajan, Member of Parliament and a close aide of Rahul Gandhi, is the frontrunner to take his place at the helm of affairs at the National Students’ Union of India and Indian Youth Congress. Gandhi was the All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary in charge of these two youth-based organisations. The need for a new in-charge arose after Gandhi was appointed as the vice-president of the Congress at the Chintan Shivir held in Jaipur two weeks ago.

Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, a well-placed source in the Congress said, “Meenakshi Natarajan is the frontrunner to become the next in-charge of the IYC and NSUI.” Natarajan has been in charge of conducting elections in these two organisations. “She has also been coordinating with Sachin Rao,” the source added. Rao, another member of Rahul Gandhi’s core team, is the interface between IYC and NSUI.

Natarajan, 37, is a Lok Sabha member from Mandasaur in Madhya Pradesh. She worked as the NSUI president from 1999 to 2002. She was the president of Madhya Pradesh Youth Congress between 2002 to 2005. She became an AICC secretary in 2008.

Another possible candidate for helming the two organisations is Deepender Hooda, an MP from Haryana, and a close associate of Rahul Gandhi. He has been overseeing the Delhi University elections for at least the last two years. According to the source, Hooda’s name cannot be ruled out from the contention.

Jitendra Singh, who was formerly the AICC secretary in charge of IYC, was given plum responsibilities in the last Cabinet reshuffle. He is now a Minister of State for Home, and Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports (independent charge). This effectively rules him out from the race, as the party is reportedly moving towards one-man-one-post policy.

Ashok Tanwar, MP from Haryana, is not in the running, according to the source. Tanwar, another of Rahul Gandhi’s aides, has been the president of IYC and NSUI.

When asked about his chances, sources close to Tanwar did not confirm or deny the speculation. However, one of them said, “A senior person might be given the responsibility too.”

A possible candidate could be Oscar Fernandes, party general secretary, who has been looking after the DU elections, for example. However, the source said that this was unlikely: “Since both the organisations are youth-oriented, the position is likely to go to a younger person.”

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