Congress Plenary 2018: Young Congress leaders see a bright future

The Congress is going through a tough period. But when the going gets tough, the tough gets going, remind several Congress workers

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S Khurram Raza

Rahul Gandhi has taken over the reins of the party at a difficult time. His mother Sonia Gandhi too faced a similar situation when she took over as the president of the party. The workers were depressed and the future of the party looked bleak. But in no time the tide changed and the Congress not only came out of that depression but became the architect of the UPA coalitions which ruled the country for ten years.

Clearly, there are challenges before Rahul Gandhi as the party’s strength in Parliament has fallen to its lowest in independent India but Gaurav Gogoi, the young Congress leader hailing from Assam, is upbeat. “Rahulji clearly understands the priorities for the party and we young leaders have full confidence in his leadership and vision. We will work under him to fulfil the vision of the Congress and our president has already identified the priorities,” Gogoi feels.

Former Union Minister and Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee president Ajay Maken, who has attended several plenary sessions including the one convened by Sitaram Kesri in Kolkata as IYC general secretary, terms this plenary session as historic. “This plenary session is historic as this is an opportunity for a new beginning, to work under new leadership which will bring the vigour of youth to the fore. This is not a generational shift but a new chapter in the history of the Congress party,” he says.

Gaurav Gogoi thinks that “this plenary session is extremely unique because it is the first one after Rahul Gandhi has taken over as president of the Indian National Congress. The Congress president is young, dynamic and progressive. Secondly, it is an opportunity to reject the authoritarian and dictatorial tendencies of the government. This plenary session offers a platform for many to deliberate as to how India can rescue its democracy and freedom from this authoritarian rule.”

There is no doubt that the Congress is facing an uphill task as the ruling BJP is strengthening its ground in state after state but the mood in the party is one of optimism. “It is a very proud moment for every Congressman because the election of Rahulji will be ratified in this session. There is great enthusiasm among Congress workers. After this plenary session, the party will get a new direction. India is a young country and 65 per cent of the population is young. Soniaji very rightly said that the Congress will be a combination of ‘youth and experience’, ” says former Delhi minister Haroon Yusuf.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala beautifully explains what the Congress stands for: “Congress represents the pluralism of India, Congress represents the cohesiveness of India, Congress represents the brotherhood of India, Congress represents the ideal mix of tradition and modernism and Congress represents the very essence of India. And everything that is beautiful, that is diverse, that is unifying is represented by the Congress party. This is the beauty of the Indian National Congress”. He further says, “Congress reshapes you as an individual by its ideology, by its work culture and by its innate commitment to the country’s foundational causes. Everybody lives for one self, everybody lives for their family, but Congress teaches you to live for others. Congress teaches to shed hate and accept love and compassion even for your adversary”.

The young face of the Congress from Rajasthan, Sachin Pilot, accepts that there are challenges before the party. “I believe that the Congress has a very shining past and it is our responsibility to face the challenges faced by the Congress and serve the nation with commitment and devotion,” he says.

Former Congress president Sonia Gandhi has very candidly spoken on the reasons for defeat in 2014 and the young leaders are in agreement. “I agree with the views of Soniaji that the BJP had managed to convince a section that the Congress was a party for the Muslims which is not at all true. This is what BJP had been doing but the gains of their divi-sive politics are short-lived and temporary. The ideology of the Congress is sufficient enough to counter this divisive campaign. The Congress never differentiates between Hindus, Muslims or followers of any other religion. This is the need of the hour because even Hindus wonder that if such kind of violence and hatred continue in the name of religion, what is the country headed towards,” says Haroon Yusuf.

In 2014, it was the BJP’s management of social media and mainstream media which villified the image of the Congress and presented a distorted picture to the people.

Maken, who heads the Congress in Delhi, which is the host state of this plenary session, too believes that social media and electronic media played a crucial role in the defeat of the Congress. “The role of electronic media is very crucial nowadays because television sets have reached almost every village of India and the BJP used this medium very effi-ciently,” he thinks. He feels that the Congress should now concentrate on this aspect and on cultivating expertise in building narratives. He says, “The present government is ruthless in its use of the social and electronic media.”

Former Delhi Councillor and young Muslim face Ishrat Jahan says, “We will get a new direction and the Congress, which has always fought and worked for farmers and weaker sections of the society, should take up these issues more aggressively.” She firmly believes that the Congress should not shy away from its secular image as this is the foundation of the Congress and the nation.

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Published: 17 Mar 2018, 12:59 PM