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Cong leaders differ over quota for women and youth in party

January 19, 2013 22:31 IST
In keeping with the new Congress mantra: youth lao party bachao, delegates to the Chintan Shivir in Jaipur have demanded that 30 per cent of the seats in the organisation and tickets in the coming elections should be reserved for the youth. The need for a quota for the youth has been echoed at various levels and has the endorsement of Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi, who has been pushing to give more tickets to the youth.

Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh has said that women and youth will get priority.

This is likely to be accepted by the party leadership as the party hopes to connect with this substantial vote bank by giving them better representation.

While Communications and Information Technology minister Kapil Sibal saw the big picture as "yuva sabse aage", Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan struck a note of caution saying that tickets cannot be given on quota basis alone as the main criteria should be merit and win-ability. He said no party would contest to lose and if the youth have the merit they should be given tickets, but being a youth cannot be the only criteria.

There has also been a strong proposal to discourage block, district, pradesh Congress committee presidents and All India Congress Committee state heads from contesting elections as they would be busy managing the elections. The proposal was to later adjust these leaders in the council or the Rajya Sabha. Those who contest elections should not have a major role in the organisation.

It was also suggested that the candidates should be announced much in advance. This was earlier articulated by the A K Antony committee and then seconded by Digvijaya Singh. It appears that there are more backers than detractors for this decision.

There was outright resentment against outsiders coming into the party and being given important positions. One leader said there should be a cooling off period for three years and they should first work in the party before being given any position. Madhusudan Mistry, who has had saffron links but now holds a key role in the AICC, and is also part of Rahul Gandhi's election committee for 2014, objected to this suggestion saying it was unfair.

The reference was also to Mohan Prakash who came from the Janata Dal and is now a general secretary along with Rajasthan PCC president Chander Bhan who also came from the Janata Dal.

There was also a proposal to not give tickets to those who lose elections twice so that new candidates could be brought in and be groomed. This again is the Rahul
line as one of the criteria's given to C P Joshi in the Gujarat elections while selecting candidates is those who have lost twice should not be given tickets.

As far as Congress's political allies are concerned, the suggestion was that the party should begin discussions with present allies from now itself in terms of the identification and sharing of seats so that matters are resolved at the earliest and the issue is not left hanging till the eleventh hour.

And as far as new allies are concerned, if the party decides to go ahead in alliance with them, then a common minimum programme should be worked out in advance listing the party's priorities if they come to power, including the ongoing reforms agenda so that later there is no embarrassment when they back off and refuse to endorse the government line when it comes to reforms or other aspects.

While a number of delegates said a big no to alliances, particularly the West Bengal lot as they opposed any tie up with Mamata Banerjee, Kamal Nath proposed that pre-poll alliances should be minimal. But senior leaders say alliances are a reality and they will be taken up state wise, depending upon where there is need and where it is feasible. It was felt the party should only deal with those parties where there is a plurality of approach and where it is felt they can do business together in the long run.

Renu Mittal in Jaipur