The Telegraph
Saturday , January 12 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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GenRahul in Jaipur showcase

New Delhi, Jan. 11: Generation change will be manifest in full force at the Jaipur chintan baithak of the Congress, with at least half of the 300 participants expected to be younger leaders, as the party gears up for Rahul Gandhi to take over the reins.

Rahul is scheduled to address the inaugural session on January 18 along with Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh.

Many of the youths will be first-timers at such a session. Rahul himself had not joined politics when the last such meeting took place in Shimla in 2003.

Among the younger leaders who have come to be associated with Rahul, only Jyotiraditya Scindia, Ashok Tanwar, R.P.N. Singh and Manish Tewari had attended the Shimla conclave.

Other than these four, who were in their thirties then with the exception of Tanwar who was 26, the leaders showcased as the party’s young faces were Salman Khurshid, Jairam Ramesh, Pallam Raju, Ramesh Chennithala, G.K. Vasan, B.K. Hariprasad, Shakil Ahmed and Kumari Selja. Most were in their forties and were already seasoned politicians by then.

Of the around 250 participants in Shimla, barely 10 were under 40. For Jaipur, this number has jumped to about 100 and many of the participants can be described as “political greenhorns.”

Invitations are being sent out by Motilal Vora, and over 100 young leaders have already received letters which also ask for their subject preference.

After the inaugural session, the participants will break into separate groups to discuss any of the following subjects — Emerging Political Challenges, Socio-economic Challenges, Organisational Strength, Women’s Empowerment, and India & the World.

The choice of subjects also reflects the change in priorities since the Shimla conclave, which was held a year before the party came to power at the Centre. The subjects discussed then were: Political Challenges, Rural Transformation, Social Empowerment, People-Oriented governance and Election Preparedness & Organisational Reforms.

The generation change is also reflected in the constitution of the committees. If veterans like Pranab Mukherjee, Arjun Singh, Natwar Singh, Shivraj Patil, Balram Jakhar, J.B. Patnaik, Devendra Dwivedi, Naval Kishore Sharma, Madhavsinh Solanki and Ghulam Nabi Azad dominated the drafting committees for Shimla, the Jaipur committees are a mix of youth and experience.

There are veterans like A.K. Antony, Sheila Dikshit, and Sushil Kumar Shinde on the committees but also younger leaders like Ashok Tanwar and Sachin Pilot, who are both in their thirties.