Rahul Gandhi’s quiet talent hunt to strengthen Youth Congress

By T.G. Biju,IANS,

New Delhi : How has India’s international trade developed in the last three decades? How will the India-US civil nuclear deal help India’s energy demands? Not general knowledge questions as one would imagine, but actually pointed queries by Rahul Gandhi, MP, to a bunch of hopefuls in his nationwide talent hunt for the Youth Congress.

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Over two days last week, the Congress general secretary sat through many such interviews at his 12, Tughlak Lane residence in the capital to handpick at least 40 people who will make up the think-tank of the Indian Youth Congress (IYC) , an organisation that he has been keen to transform since he was appointed general secretary in September 2007.

“I was amazed by the range of questions that were asked — international trade, the bombings across India and poverty. Nobody quite expected this line of questioning,” said Mathew Kuzhalanadan, a Youth Congress leader who is also a PhD student in international trade law at Jawaharlal Nehru University.

“Many aspirants, including me, anticipated questions only on the Congress party’s ideology and on its manifesto during the interaction. We were taken aback, but nevertheless it was an inspiring occasion that helped us understand Rahul’s worldview and how he thinks.”

Party insiders told IANS that this was the first time that Gandhi had conducted such an internal talent search that aimed to give party posts to talented people and build stronger youth organisations sans any influence from senior party leaders.

A handful of Gandhi’s trusted lieutenants and parliamentarians like Sachin Pilot, Deepender Singh Hooda and IYC president Ashok Tanwar helped in identifying possible contenders from across the country.

During the interface, a four-member team including Gandhi’s friends Kanishka Singh and Sachin Rao, Ashok Tanwar and Jitender Singh, AICC secretary in-charge (Youth
Congress), were present.

But it was not just a one-way interrogation as Gandhi was also keen to elicit the candidates’ views on organisational matters, their leadership qualities and political understanding.

“Now, we eagerly await the outcome of the interview,” said P.C. Vishnunath, 30, a Congress legislator from Kerala who rushed to Delhi soon after he got a call from the IYC asking him to be present on Oct 28.

“I know he has a long-term goal and that came out clearly during the interview. He wants to build a strong youth organisation knowing fully well that 50 percent of the country’s population is under 25 years.”

Gandhi was disturbed by the recent wave of bombings across India in the past few months and sought their views on how they would react and deal with the scourge.

One candidate from Assam was asked how he would deal with the carefully coordinated bombings that shattered the midday bustle of markets in Guwahati and three other districts in the state.