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Rahul Gandhi's election drive hits a hurdle

August 31, 2010 03:00 IST
Rahul Gandhi has been traveling around the country asking students and the young people to join politics. He has been holding elections in the Youth Congress and the National Students Union of India in sharp contrast to the parent Congress where Sonia Gandhi's managers have continued to sing the consensus mantra and where the nomination culture has come to dominate, from the block to the All India Congress Committee level.

But the democrat in Rahul Gandhi is visible only as long as it suits him. A case in point is of Chattisgarh where the youth congress is yet to hold the elections and where the election drive is going on.

Sources disclose that Amit Jogi, the son of the former state chief minister Ajit Jogi has been active in the membership drive from the state. So much so that Jogi junior, known to be a somewhat controversial figure in the state has managed to make around 4 lakh members, a huge number surpassing even Rahul Gandhi's expectations. Having worked hard, Amit Jogi on the basis of his membership drive has decided to contest the youth congress president's election in Chattisgarh, a trend approved and encouraged by Rahul Gandhi.

At the mention of Amit Jogi's name, Rahul's New Delhi office panicked and AICC secretary Jitender Singh, a close aide of Rahul's is reported to have made innumerable calls to Amit Jogi asking him not to contest. But so far Jogi junior is adamant and is continuing to stand his ground.

Sources say that a number of undesirable elements have become state youth congress presidents on the basis of money and muscle power which includes a close aide of Pappu Yadav becoming president in Bihar along with other such elements.

A senior leader said that according to the system put in place by Rahul Gandhi, it has now become very difficult for the common man to contest the youth congress elections as most of those who have won, have spent a great deal of money and on the basis of that they are winning elections and enrolling members. A number of them are sons of Congress leaders  and are using their father's authority and connections to make it to the post.

But the perception is that once he has decided to opt for the election route as opposed to the nomination culture, his office should not try and manipulate the system where it suits them but let the election process have its way. Otherwise a good beginning would be lost even before it can fully take off, as it appears to be happening in Chattisgarh.

On Wednesday, Rahul Gandhi is scheduled to visit Amethi, followed by a visit to Bihar on Saturday, where the election campaign is taking off and then to Kolkatta on Monday to kickstart the youth congress membership drive and hold his first rally in the Kolkata, where elections are due next year.
Renu Mittal in New Delhi