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Rahul pitches for youth at Mumbai pitstop

Last updated on: April 27, 2012 14:56 IST

During his first visit to Maharashtra after the Congress received a drubbing in the high-profile state elections in Uttar Pradesh, party general secretary Rahul Gandhi chose to meet with only young party members and senior leaders in Mumbai.

His first pitstop was at Mumbai's Bhaidas Hall, located in the suburb of Vile Parle, where he met with the city unit of the National Students Union of India and Youth Congress workers. The exercise was part of a broader stocktaking programme which included all cadres of the Congress in the state.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and other senior Congress leaders were present at the meetings.

Gandhi's speech to the assembled youngsters of his party was said to be an inspiring and fiery one. Exhorting the youth to enter politics in large numbers, he is reported to have said that the politics of the country will not progress without the active participation of the youth, since their enthusiasm could bring several long-term goals to fruition.

He also expressed hope that the Youth Congress will soon get several more youngsters in its fold.

If the Congress wants to do as well in the 2014 general elections in Maharashtra as it did in its last outing in 2009, infusing young blood in its ranks could well turn out to be a smart ploy if handled the right way.

The recent civic elections in Mumbai were a lesson for the Congress in several ways -- the beating the party's image took was not limited only to its debilitating losses across the city, but also to a string of fights within party ranks for tickets.

With its coalition partner in the state, the Nationalist Congress Party, the state Congress faced several bouts of rebellion and loss of prime candidates to other parties, ultimately exposing a clear lack of planning and a bigger lack of damage control exercises on the part of the Congress.

Indirectly addressing these lacunae, Gandhi told the assembled workers that if they ever faced any administrative issue or needed a clearer perspective on things, they must not hesitate to go to their party seniors.

"Go to your chief minister for help," he reportedly added.

Several members of the NSUI are said to have demanded that youth elections be held again in the state, a demand that Gandhi said he would forward to the Congress top brass.

After the meeting at Bhaidas Hall wound up, Gandhi made his way to Tilak Bhavan, the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee's headquarters in Dadar. The media was barred from covering or reporting live from all of his meetings in Mumbai. Gandhi chose to interact only with party workers and emerging cadres in Mumbai.

On Saturday, he is scheduled to visit drought-prone areas in Satara.

Vrushali Lad