New Delhi: Rahul Gandhi's mantra for change in the Youth Congress needs to be replicated in the Congress, which needs to bring in new systems and fresh ideas such as democratic processes, accountability and a younger leadership, says senior party leader Digvijay Singh.
As the party prepares itself for the next general elections in 2014 — but not ruled out earlier — general secretary Rahul Gandhi's role is also being evaluated.
"The challenge for the Congress today is to bring in new systems in the party, as Rahul has been able to do in the Youth Congress, and institutionalise them," Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh told IANS in an interview.
"Personalities don't matter," he said, hinting that the planned reshuffle of the party could end up upsetting some leaders.
Rahul Gandhi — the 42-year-old is projected on the Congress website along with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his mother, party president Sonia Gandhi — played a key role in the "new look" Manmohan Singh cabinet reshuffle Oct 28.
Widely expected to soon take on a more definitive role in the party, he was behind the upgrade of Jyotiraditya Scindia, 41, Sachin Pilot, 35, Jitendra Singh, 41 and Manish Tewari, 47, who were given independent charge of ministries to prepare them for future leadership roles and bring in fresh ideas in governance.
There is speculation that Rahul Gandhi, who already enjoys de facto number 2 status in the party after Sonia Gandhi, may be elevated as vice president, or working president or secretary general in the planned organisational reshuffle.
Now, he is expected to give important roles to close aides, including party MPs Ashok Tanwar, Meenakshi Natarajan, Mausam Noor and Manicka Tagore.
Digvijaya Singh said he was happy that Rahul Gandhi did not join the government as he needed to play a more proactive role in the party.
"I am happy that Rahul did not join the government. He needs much more proactive and effective role in the party. His ideas can be useful in the long term," Digvijaya told IANS.
Congress insiders cite the work Rahul Gandhi has done - as in-charge of the party's frontal organisations - in the Indian Youth Congress (IYC) and the National Students Union of India. He has been able to democratise the youth wings through elections and by bringing in younger leaders, since 2008, said a party leader.
This ended a system of patronage and brought in accountability in the IYC.
"He opened the doors of politics for the youth who had no political background. There is democracy in our organisation. Earlier, everything (appointing office bearers) was decided from Delhi," IYC president Rajeev Satav said.
"He introduced the concept of performance-based evaluation to ensure accountability of the elected office bearers for the first time," said Satav.