The strength of any party lies in its ability to galvanise the younger elements in the organisation to achieve larger political objectives. This is precisely what is not happening, since many gifted young leaders continue to wait on the sidelines without any work being assigned to them. Instead, the high command continues to make the organization top heavy by nominating rootless individuals, who are clueless about either the history or ideology of the party, to occupy important positions of secretaries. Therefore, the consequences are for everyone to see with workers left directionless in states, which the Congress has been losing one after the other. The silver lining which is visible in the dark cloud is that of B.V. Srinivas, the dynamic president of the Indian Youth Congress, who by sheer hard work and determination, has been making attempts to resuscitate the organization. In fact, the Youth Congress he heads and the kind of leadership he is providing, has shades of the Youth Congress, which was inspired by the late Sanjay Gandhi in the late 1970s and which enabled the party to bounce back in power. Srinivas has to cross many hurdles but going by the popularity status of those who have rendered selfless service during the Covid crisis, he is certainly amongst the top five which includes actor Sonu Sood, perhaps the most trusted man so far as relief operations are concerned.
Srinivas is the kind of person who needs to be encouraged further and should be the role model for a large number of youngsters who want to pursue politics in the Congress. His working style is low key but has been acknowledged by both his seniors as well as adversaries. This is the kind of spirit that alone can revive the Congress.
As stated multiple times in this column, the Gandhis have to be become facilitators and enablers for the party they have controlled for so long to survive. Their leadership, for the time being, is redundant but they can surely utilise the services of both seniors as well as upcoming leaders to bring the Congress back to life.
There are indeed challenges on the way, and these can be overcome if the high command brings about harmony between the working styles of the veterans and the greenhorns. It is a known fact that with seniors around in various states, the younger lot would always find it difficult to make themselves matter. Therefore, the party can devise new methods so that no feathers are ruffled but the exercise to infuse new life into the organization begins simultaneously. The regional satraps have their roles cut out for them. The high command is in no position to alter the playing rules in states which are controlled by powerful leaders, who have spent a lifetime in the party.
The question that is likely to be asked is, what would in that case become of leaders with a promise such as Sachin Pilot, Kuldeep Bishnoi, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Jitin Prasada, R.P.N. Singh, Deependra Hooda, Ravneet Singh Bittoo, Sushmita Dev, Gaurav Gogoi and many more like them? The party has to adopt new strategies, one of them could be to first select 70 young leaders who can deliver and then give them responsibilities. It is also a known fact that it would be difficult for any of the younger leaders to compete and survive in states if their politics is in variance with that of existing satraps, who need to be also given sufficient space to help in the revival of the party. Thus, these 70 individuals to begin with should be entrusted with the task of looking at ten districts each in states other than their own. There are enough Congress workers throughout the country, but no one is there to guide them. These leaders by working in the districts would carry the party’s ideology and commitment to the grassroots and also help in identifying those who can win future elections at various levels for the party. One needs to recall that Sonia Gandhi in her first five or six years as the party president was able to build the organisation because she interacted regularly with district and block representatives. Therefore, these selected 70 leaders can be the bridge between block and districts while not offering a conflict of interest with the existing state leaderships. These functionaries should replace the existing panel of secretaries, who do no work or are not recognized in their own party. To involve the seniors, these selected 70 should be provided guidance by seniors such as Kamal Nath, Ashok Gehlot, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Captain Amarinder Singh, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Bhupesh Baghel, Anand Sharma and others. This would also strengthen the bond between the different generations within the party. The Congress has reached a dead end. The BJP’s tidal wave seems to have demoralized and weakened the central leadership. However, every organisation has to reinvent itself. If the Gandhi magic is not working amongst people, there has to be a new leadership to deal with issues. The Gandhis should take a back seat and allow one of the seniors to take the command and utilise the services of the younger elements to bring the party back on rails. Srinivas is the best appointment the high command has made in recent years.
The time has come to decentralize the authority for the sake of the revival of the party. The baton must change for this. Between us.