A young man with a vision and one of the India's new ray of hope in the world of Indian politics. He is Rahul Gandhi. Rahul Gandhi is the Congress General Secretary of the Indian National Congress. He is also a Member of Parliament representing the Amethi constituency.
Childhood and Study
Rahul Gandhi was born on 19 June 1970 in Delhi, the first amongst 2 children of Rajiv Gandhi, former Prime Minister of India and Sonia Gandhi, the present Congress President. His grandmother was former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and his great-grandfather was Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first Prime Minister.
He attended Modern School, New Delhi before entering the The Doon School. Starting university at Harvard, he got his B.A. from Rollins College, Florida in 1994 due to interruptions in his studies caused by security concerns after his father's assassination. He received an M.Phil. in Development Studies in 1995 from Trinity College, Cambridge. Rahul Gandhi, after graduating worked with management guru, Michael Porter's Management consulting firm, Monitor Group for three years. He returned to India in late 2002.
Rahul Gandhi’s vision of ‘Internal Democracy’ in the Congress party’s Youth and the Students’ wings has resulted in reforms and transformations never seen before. From open memberships to internal elections under impartial observers, the young Gandhi aims to infuse transparency and the concept of talent management and performance measurement in the organisation, a huge effort to herald a positive change in one of India’s oldest political parties.
He appeared with his mother and Congress President Sonia Gandhi at public events and Congress meetings. He also traveled to Pakistan on a goodwill visit to watch the first cricket series between the countries in 14 years in a One Day International with his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. As a matured politician he formulates his tactics very carefully. In March 2004, he announced his entry into politics by contesting the May 2004 elections from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh for the Lok Sabha. In his first interview with media, he condemned "divisive" politics in India, saying that he would try to reduce caste and religious tensions. His candidacy was greeted with excitement by locals, who had a long standing affinity with the family's presence in the area. He won with a landslide majority, retaining the family stronghold with a margin of over 100,000 as the Congress unexpectedly defeated the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. His campaign was directed by his younger sister, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.
In January 2006, at a convention of the Indian National Congress in Hyderabad, thousands of party members asked for Gandhi to take a more prominent leadership role in the party and demanded that he address the delegates. He said "I appreciate and I am grateful for your feelings and support. I assure you I will not let you down", but asked for patience and declined to immediately seek a high profile role.
Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra managed their mother's election campaign in Raebareli in 2006, which was won easily with a margin greater than 400,000 votes. He was a prominent figure in a high profile Congress campaign for the 2007 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.
As Congress General Secretary
Rahul Gandhi was appointed a General Secretary of the All India Congress Committee on 24 September 2007 in a reshuffle of the party secretariat. In the same reshuffle, he was also given charge of the Youth Congress and the National Students Union of India. Rahul Gandhi implemented some innovative methodologies in the process of choosing leadership in Youth Congress. Rahul Gandhi toured the country with a mission to strengthen the Youth Congress and NSUI. He held interaction sessions with the young buds in various colleges and universities. This new approach helped create a fresh enthusiasm among the young party workers and sympathizers. Rahul Gandhi always believed that unless the youth of this country become active in Indian politics and be a part in the process of development, India cannot prosper further.
Strengthening Youth Congress
It is a scene of a sea-change in the rank and file of the Indian Youth Congress (IYC) and the National Students Union of India (NSUI), the youth and students’ wings, respectively, of the Indian National Congress. The reason is the implementation of the vision of ‘Internal democratisation of Rahul Gandhi, current General Secretary of the All India Congress Committee (AICC). Along with the strengthening of internal democracy in the youth and student’s wings of the party, Rahul Gandhi has not lost sight of the long term vision of political empowerment of youth of the country. In the Parliamentary and Assembly elections held recently, a large number of IYC and NSUI members were given opportunity to contest elections and a majority of them have been successful. This has ensured a two pronged rejuvenation and reformation in the IYC. By sending new talent into the parliament and State Assemblies Shri Rahul Gandhi has ensured that the young generation gets a firsthand exposure in the giant laboratory of Indian Democracy.
His mission to promote youth
Rahul Gandhi focussed on the twin systems of open membership and internal elections as the major drivers of this organisational transformation. His method of open membership ensures that people interested in becoming members are inducted directly into the organisation. The aim is to increase the cadre-base and to empower the youth of the country by helping them enter the political sphere. As a pilot, a month-long membership drive was undertaken in Punjab in August-December 2008. The result saw memberships exceed 350,000, a ten-fold increase vis-à-vis the previous membership drive which yielded approximately 30,000 memberships.
A greater arduous task that has been driven by Rahul Gandhi is the process of conducting elections within the organisation, across the country. This was a step never before undertaken in the organisation, and is seen as a bold and decisive move to bring in transparency across the ranks and to give a fair chance to all members. The membership drive in the states was followed by elections at block, district and state levels in the organisation. The election also ensures that all sections of society are adequately represented within a committee. The result, according to the party, has been a younger, fresh lot of people from all sections of society, many amongst them, first-timers in politics. Rahul Gandhi’s drive and vision has, according to the party, succeeded in its primary mission of opening the doors of politics to all who are interested, and ushering in organisational democracy, setting a benchmark across all political organisations.
As a Congress campaigner
In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, he retained his Amethi constutuency by a victory margin of over 333,000 votes. Rahul Gandhi also played a pivatol role in reviving Congress in U.P during this election by winning 21 out of the total 80 Lok Sabha seats. He spoke at 125 rallies across the country in six weeks. Rahul Gandhi, at present concentrates mainly on constituency issues and the politics of Uttar Pradesh.
"If the country is to be changed, it cannot be changed from the top, it can be changed from the ground level. Policies can be from the top, ideas can come from the top, thoughts can come from the top, but their implementation has to be at the level of municipalities, panchayats and wards". These words of Rahul Gandhi prove that he understands the actual value and strength of democracy and also underlines the importance of a visionary young leader like him.
It is the future which will prove the effectiveness of the endeavour of the young Congress leader. But his push at reforms, addressing rallies, conferences and meetings and interaction with young people of varied professions and socio-economic backgrounds across states to spread the awareness of his organisational reforms is an indication of his seriousness to bring in and to establish a direct contact with the grassroots, an endeavour to inject vital life into the party and the youth of this country.