The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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A council of sixty-plus, in number as well as age
- Buzz flies around Rahul factor as Generation-Ex scores at the expense of young blood

New Delhi, May 22: Till Rahul Gandhi learns the ropes in Parliament one step after halting step, GeNext MPs might just have to sit out from government and play the waiting game.

As Manmohan Singh took charge of the country today with a 60-plus ministry, neither did the old order change nor did it yield place to the new. Salt and pepper 60-plus MPs bagged practically all portfolios, plum and not so plum, giving short shrift to the young.

Not a single berth went to the likes of Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sachin Pilot, Sandeep Dikshit, Jitin Prasada or Milind Deora — all winners from their constituencies and, in some cases, even giant-killers. Dynasty gifted them Congress tickets from Guna, Dausa, East Delhi, Shahjahanpur and South Mumbai, but failed to find them berths.

Observers suggest the reason could be the preference of Rahul — Dynasty’s First Scion — to cut his teeth as an MP and not get into the hurly-burly of ministership rightaway. Apparently, the Congress high command does not want MPs of Rahul’s age to hog the limelight so early and possibly get a headstart over him.

“Rahul’s decision seems to have been a factor against pushing the younger MPs… no one wants competition,” an observer said.

The only young MPs who managed to sneak into a predominantly “greying” ministry are 34-year Dayanidhi Maran and 40-something Anbumani Ramadoss. But then, neither of them is from the Congress.

Dayanidhi, son of late Murasoli Maran and an MBA from Harvard, is from the DMK. Anbumani — the only person to have come in a suit for the swearing-in — is the son of PMK founder S. Ramadoss and is being groomed as the “face of the next generation” in that party.

That the Congress, which not very long ago took potshots at the ageing face of the BJP leadership, has overlooked GeNext — even women have not had a happy time, only one has made cabinet rank — is jarring to say the least. It is not likely to bode well in states like Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan where the Congress will have to do much hard work.

In Uttar Pradesh, cabinet berths have gone to Mahabir Prasad and Sri Prakash Jaiswal, both former state Congress chiefs in their seventies. In Gujarat, the not-so-young Shankersinh Vaghela — who was in the BJP — has been rewarded. Seventy-seven-year-old Sis Ram Ola and Natwar Singh are the faces from Rajasthan.

As of now, the “youngest” in the team are Mani Shankar Aiyar, Kamal Nath, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Meira Kumar and Priya Ranjan Das Munshi, all aged between 55 and 60. Facing them across the table will be 60 and 70-plus veterans — Shivraj Patil, Pranab Mukherjee, Jaipal Reddy, H.R. Bhardwaj, Sunil Dutt and Arjun Singh, to name a few.

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