The youth will empower themselves in the Youth Congress. I am catalyst says Rahul Gandhi

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25 November 2009
In an interactive session with media at Jaipur said that he is in Rajasthan with one focus to strengthen Youth Congress and NSUI. Elaborating on his role he called himself a 'catalyst' and at the age of 39 found himself old enough to be called youngster. On a question related to reservation he said that more and more focus should be on supply of education which means more and more educational Institutions and facilities for youngsters.
Talking about the organizational elections being held in the Youth Congress, Congress General Secretary said, "We started this from Punjab, then Gujarat and then Pondicherry. We also did the same in Tamil Nadu, and now same is going on in Tripura, Rajasthan, UP and other states. There are two thoughts behind this process; first more and more youth should join these organizations and second democratization of these organization which will give them space to raise their voice. For that reason I am here and we are getting good response in Rajasthan. As this process is gearing up, so does its response increasing. . When we started up in Punjab, we had just around 30 thousand members but after elections we jumped to around 3.5 lakhs, getting more than ten fold increase in the membership. After Punjab we did it in Gujarat and added around 7.5 lakhs member. Thereafter, we did it in Pondicherry and in Tamil Nadu; in Tamil Nadu we added up around 14.5 lakhs members. So, this is showing a good progress. It is a matter of happiness to see the youth involved in such a huge number and a new dynamism has entered into the Youth Congress and the NSUI."

Congress General Secretary said that in the Youth Congress and the NSUI there are adequate number of seats reserved for adivasis, Dalits, women and minorities. He said, "Our system is not a ‘winner take all' system. The system we follow is that; the top 10 persons at Panchayat, block or district level is selected in our system. We have certain number of seats reserved for adivasis, Dalits, women and minorities. Our idea is to send the leaders to assemblies, Loksabha or district bodies having a support base in Youth Congress. We don't think that if one has won, then rest are losers".

Talking on the changing demography of the country and entry in politics through connections he said, "If you look at the Indian population and you do the demographic analysis of the Indian population, I am an old. A person of 39 in India is an old person, because 60% of our population is below 40 years. There are lots of leaders already in Punjab, in Gujarat and in Tamil Nadu who have no family connection in the system. My secretary Meenakshi Natarajan has no connection whatsoever; she is a Member of Parliament. I can name many members like that. I can name you many MLAs like that. I can certainly tell you many such people in our organization by hundreds. These people are doing very good job in the field. What we are putting in place is a process. It is not an event that happens once; it is a process that will keep happening. The process will mature and deepen and my expectation is as taken the first election, we will have a lot of people who have connections. But I think that in the second and the third elections, changes will start to come. Already we are seeing a big difference between the election in Punjab and the election that is going to happen in Tamil Nadu. It is quite visible. One must not see this as an event, this is a long term process and what we are committed to do this in Youth Congress and the NSUI is to follow this process".

Speaking on the empowerment of the youth, Congress General Secretary said, "I just want to make one sentiment very clear. Rahul Gandhi is not one to empower the youth in the Youth Congress. The youth will empower themselves in the Youth Congress. I am catalyst. I am not the leader of this Youth Congress; I am not even the member of the Youth Congress. My job is to make this a dynamic and powerful organization. The people who are taking part in these processes are all under 35 and they are all taking their own decisions. Elections are happening in Punjab and in Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan; I can not tell you today that who is going to be the President of the Rajasthan Youth Congress; I have no idea. I will not be able to tell you that until the day he is declared elected. And no body in this table would be able to tell you that. Why? Because, we are moving towards a system which listens to the voice of the youngsters. We want them to come out with their leaders; we want them to say that this is the man whom we want as the leader of the Youth Congress. So, I am a catalyst, you have to keep in mind that I am not the member of the Youth Congress and nor the NSUI. I am just an enabler".
Talking on the representation of youth by Congress Party he said, "Our party has systematically given empowerment to the youth. We have Ashok Gehlotji, he was a youth leader in his time, NSUI leader. C P Joshiji is the same, so we have periodic flow of youth leaders in our party. They came in a massive way in the 80s. There is some truth to the fact that there was a period, I would say after 1991 when we did not take in as many youngsters as we should have. But we have corrected that. I am very confident that you will see a huge participation of the youth in our organizations".

Congress General Secretary said, "My job is to increase the participation of youngsters in politics. I am here to make sure that as many youngsters coming to this organization and as many youngsters are empowered in this organization; and that's my focus. I want to concentrate on the future of the Youth Congress, the NSUI and the Congress Party. It is my endeavor to ensure that youngsters of this country not only participate in politics but are empowered in politics. That's why I am insisting on democratically elected organization in the Youth Congress and the NSUI".
Talking on reservation in educational institutes, he said, "I have put my views very clearly. This question was raised during a student interaction; I told them that there are two views in India regarding reservation. My view is that there must be more and more universities and colleges being set up and our focus must be on supply side of education. There is great connection between the supply of educational facilities and the reservation. If there is less supply, people will talk more on reservation and if supply is more, people will talk less about reservation. The biggest question is to increase the number of universities and colleges in India.
Congress General Secretary showed his full faith in the youth of this country. He said, "The youngsters in our country are intelligent, dynamic and thinkable. My belief is; if we empower them within organization, they will deal with these problems. They will deal with environmental problems and reservation; I don't feel that I go and tell the youngsters that please sort this problem out. I think that is underestimating the power of Indian youth. I think they are very capable of taking their own decisions; of thinking about the decision themselves".
He denied any possibility of nominations in the Youth Congress and NSUI after elections. He said, "There is not a single post in the Youth Congress and NSUI wherever our process is being implemented. So, there can not be any systematic influence. There is only way out and that is of election. If you are able to convince the members you can do that to get elected. Our system does not allow the influence".
He said he is focusing on his job." I can only comment on the affairs of Youth Congress and the NSUI. But wherever we go, even the senior Congress leaders tell us that this process must run; this is good. I have only been given the assignment to strengthen the Youth Congress and the NSUI; regarding the whole party, it is the job of senior leaders. I am focused to my job," he cleared.
Congress General Secretary further said, "I am in politics for just five years; I don't have as much experience as my senior leaders. I have been given a job and I am doing just that. This is not my responsibility to suggest the party in running its whole affair. I just understand the Youth Congress and the NSUI. I can only suggest them that what is good for them. Secondly, it will take some time for the Youth Congress to run this process. We started from Punjab and we felt some shortcomings there; it was only at block and district levels there. Then we tasted it at Panchayat level in Pondicherry and Tamil Nadu. Gradually we are improving. As I have told you earlier this is a process and this will take time".
On election being held in universities, he said, "What do you think if I am holding elections for Youth Congress and NSUI, then what will be my view for Universities? Obviously, my view is to empower or involve the youth as much as we can".
Talking on the denial of opportunities to contest elections for persons having political background, he said, "The problem with the election is; if a person wins the election you can not deny him the place. You can not run a democratic party and say that if anybody, whose parents are in Congress Party, can not fight the election. That is undemocratic. What we are doing is we are creating a system and that system will be free and fair. If person whose family members are in the Congress Party is welcome to do so, just as a person who does not have any family member in the party is also welcome to do so. The only person whom we deny to take part in our election system is criminals, where we have very strict rules and the people who have hard-line ideology. So, people who are fundamentalists or do not believe in the Congress ideology, anybody else is welcome. We can not stop a person who is a part of our system for taking part in election".
Talking about his responsibility as in charge of Youth organizations he said, "I will tell you my philosophy. There is a habit in our country to watch cricket match; and Mr Sachin Tandulkar is batting and we say that we can do better than him when we play cricket outside the field. So, I know where my job is and where my responsibility is. That's why I believe in working on. It is not my responsibility right now to analyze and understand how Congress Party should be run. That is somebody else's responsibility. I don't need to do that, because frankly if I will do that I will not be able to do my job. My job is very complicated job.
Speaking on the Liberhan Commission report he said, "That report has been tabled in Parliament and the discussion is going on. That is my view and let us look at it in that way.
He said that elections in the Youth Congress and the NSUI will be free and fair. "I have given two commitments to every single member of the Youth Congress and the NSUI. I have said that anybody who is not a criminal and who has Congress view points can come into this system. Second thing I have said that it will be my endeavour to make this system as clear as possible. If we have election, they should be very fair. We involved not only Mr K J Rao, we involved Mr Lyngdoh and a foundation of six or seven ex-election commissioners. We believe that we need them for our elections. We went to an outside agency so that they can say that this election is free and fair. It is my promise to the youngsters of the Youth Congress. Let me say what the rules are. They can go anywhere they like. They can check anything they like within our election system and it is open. So, we don't hide anything from them. If they say that this person has won this election illegally and it has to be re-done; we re-do that. So, our whole focus is to make this as fair and free as possible. You know people like Mr Lyngdoh and Mr K J Rao, they are not going to tolerate things that are not fair. That is one of the reasons our process is being so successful".
Congress General Secretary said that he did not have any regret in his life. He said."I don't see my job as politics. I see my job as empowering the youths of this country and trying to do what little I can to make the future of this country. Whatever I would have been doing, whether I was doing politics or anything else that is the framework I would be thinking about".

This article is posted by Press Brief.

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