TNCC is yet to sync completely with Youth Wing

Now that Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has said he will be “happy” if the party contests the 2016 Assembly elections on its own, the focus has again shifted to the Youth Wing that he has mentored.

According to the Indian Youth Congress (IYC) website, the Youth Wing in the State has about 12.92 lakh members. Left to fight the Lok Sabha elections alone, the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee (TNCC), controlled by Congress leaders, who act more like rival groups with no visible co-ordination, is yet to sync completely with its Youth Wing, going by reports from the field.

In Tirunelveli, the Youth Wing took out a bike rally on the day the poll date was announced. After that, the members have not taken to campaigning in any big way. In Madurai, party candidate Bharat Nachiappan was upset when he found that the mandatory affidavit to be filed along with the nomination was missing in his file.

When 80-year old N.S.V. Chithan, sitting MP from Dindigul, announced that he would contest this election as well, the Youth Congress in the constituency rebelled and threatened to field its own candidate as an independent. But Mr. Chithan prevailed.

In Tiruchi, there was tremendous enthusiasm among the Youth Congress volunteers but party insiders say the Youth Wing was not used to its fullest potential by the local leaders. Therefore, the general feeling among the Youth Wing is that they are neglected in the campaigns. They want to be given tasks and be made in charge of certain areas to enable them to go all out.

In Karur constituency, former Youth Congress leader and current national secretary of the Mahila Congress S. Jothimani is the party candidate.

Till recently, Ms. Jothimani played a signal role in the Youth Congress affairs before being moved to the Mahila Congress. An acknowledged member of the Rahul brigade, Ms. Jothimani initially raised the hope of the local cadre.

Later, she was left to campaign with her own “interns” who are seen as outsiders by the local partymen.

In the Thanjavur Lok Sabha constituency, the Youth Wing has 13,000 members. The wing organised two-wheeler rallies and workers’ meetings in all the six Assembly segments, says R. Thirusenthil, its president there.

Compared to the rest of the constituencies in the western region, Salem presented a slightly different picture as the candidate Mohan Kumaramangalam is part of Mr. Gandhi’s team in New Delhi.

Mr. Kumaramangalam has tried to connect with young voters and this has been quite evident throughout the campaign.

In the rest of the region, including Coimbatore, the Youth Congress is part of the overall campaign.

Whatever may be the outcome, Mr. Gandhi’s youth brigade has the mandate to be a crucial part of the effort to strengthen the party after the polls. And from what it looks, it’s a long haul ahead.