Call for Gen Next leader to head Cong grows louder

The view that a young leader should succeed Rahul Gandhi as Congress president is fast gaining traction with the party’s youth cadre batting for a Gen Next chief over the old guard.

The young brigade’s preference for youth over experience got a boost when Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday asserted that a young person should be chosen as Gandhi’s successor.

Though no Congress leader or worker has publicly put forward any name, party insiders said Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot and senior Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia could be front-runners for the top job in the Grand Old Party.

Pilot, 41, led the party to victory in the assembly polls as the Rajasthan Pradesh Congress chief and has a lot of grassroots experience. Scindia, 48, is also seen as a dynamic leader with mass appeal though he could not win his seat in Madhya Pradesh in the Lok Sabha election.

While Pilot and Scindia seem to be ahead of others in the young brigade, former Union minister Milind Deora could well be the dark horse, say political observers.

The focus swivelled to the young brigade on Sunday when Scindia made public his resignation as general secretary in-charge western Uttar Pradesh and Deora announced he has quit as Mumbai Congress chief. On Saturday, Keshav Chand Yadav resigned as Youth Congress president.

All three resigned citing accountability, Gandhi’s focus after the Lok Sabha polls debacle.

The Congress got only one seat in Uttar Pradesh, that of Sonia Gandhi in Rae Bareli, and lost all the five of the six seats in Mumbai it contested.

Announcing his resignation as Mumbai Congress president, 42-year-old Deora said he was looking forward to playing a role at the national level to help stabilise the party.

The resignations citing accountability have put party ‘old guard’ in a spot with pressure mounting on them to follow suit.

On Monday, veteran Congress leader Karan Singh urged the Congress Working Committee to meet without delay under the chairmanship of former prime minister Manmohan Singh to take necessary decisions.

He also suggested that an interim president and four working presidents or vice presidents one each for the North, South, East and West zones should be appointed to induct “younger people into positions of authority”.

Some Youth Congress leaders met Rahul Gandhi last week and told him a young leader who has connect with the youth is the need of the hour and should be handed the reins of the party, sources said.

“Whoever becomes Congress president has to be someone whom people can identify with across the country. People should be able to identify and also look for their long term future with that president,” a senior leader said on condition of anonymity.

“Someone who is well-known, articulate and has charisma — that is the kind of person people expect the Congress to hand over the reins to,” he added.

A large section of the party comprising young leaders feels the party needs to connect with the youth and a young leader at the helm is a must as an old guard leader may fail to attract millennials and Gen Next.


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