Rahul has decided to build a team of 100 youths in every district.
Ahead of the 2019 general elections, the Congress has started brainstorming about how to woo minorities, youhs and Dalits. According to an internal source, senior Congress leaders decided to launch an outreach programme to attract voters from the aforesaid segments in a meeting held at a conference hall here in May.
A source in the Congress told The Sunday Guardian: “Congress president Rahul Gandhi has decided to build a team of 100 youths in every district. The core team further will reach out to 15 crore estimated first time voters till the 2019 general elections.”
“The decision to build a core team of youths to launch an outreach programme was taken to counter the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Sampark se Samarthan (contact for support), an outreach campaign,” the same source cited said.
“The Congress’ outreach programme will be led by the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), the students’ arm of the party, with support from the party’s research department and senior mentors such as Kamal Nath, Shashi Tharoor, Rajeev Gowda, Digvijaya Singh, P. Chidambaram, Jairam Ramesh, Salman Khurshid and Sam Pitroda,” the source cited above said. A similar programme was discussed to woo minority and Dalit voters too. “A programme which will highlight the plights of Dalits and minorities in the country will be launched soon. The mode of campaign is yet to be announced,” the source mentioned above added.
The decision to induct youths in the party was taken because the central leadership of the party believes that first-time voters had played a crucial role in the BJP’s victory in 2014. As per Election Commission data, there were 11.72 crore first-time voters in 2014 out of a total of 83.41 crore voters in the country.
On the basis of the 2011 census data, in 2019, when the general elections will be held, there could be an addition of around 15 crore first-time voters in the age group 18-23 who will exercise their franchise.
Akhilesh Pratap Singh, national spokesperson of the Congress, said: “Youths are the backbone of the country and so is the Congress party. Since the days of the Indian freedom movement, the Congress has been acting like a school for young minds. The objective of youth-oriented programmes is to get talented youth to use NSUI as a ladder to enter politics and to make public discourse more vibrant and dynamic.”
“In the current political establishment, youths, Dalits and minorities are feeling alienated. The young generation of the country is worried about their future as there are no jobs for them. Joblessness and lack of opportunities have forced them to get disconnected from the BJP and the Congress is trying to bring them in its fold,” Singh told The Sunday Guardian.
According to political observers, Madhya Pradesh (MP), Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan are going to be crucial for the Congress as Assembly elections are due in these states this year. Any positive outcome in these states will boost the party’s morale and provide “proof” of the effectiveness of the party’s outreach programme.
In BJP-led Rajasthan, MP, and Chhattisgarh, the Congress has already started its outreach programme. In Rajasthan, the party has launched a campus outreach programme which is expected to play a crucial role in adding more youths.
Shailesh Nitin Trivedi, Chhattisgarh Congress spokesperson, said: “In Chhattisgarh, the Congress has started inducting activists who work for marginalised sections such as Dalits, minorities and women in the state. These activists are mainly youths. Also, we have launched a ‘Vikas Dhundho’ campaign which will highlight the unmade promises of the Raman Singh-led BJP government in the state.”
In Madhya Pradesh, too, where Assembly elections are due this year, the Congress has launched a similar campaign to woo young Muslim and Dalit voters. Manak Agarwal, Congress spokesperson in MP, said: “We have started several youth-oriented outreach campaigns in MP. Young party workers will go to every district to highlight the problems faced by the youth.”