The atmosphere at Andhra Ratna Bhavan, the city Congress office, was very different on Thursday. The youth were not wearing headbands proclaiming their loyalty to one leader or the other. Nor were they zooming around in mobikes without silencers. For a routine passer-by, it would have looked like a job mela with the youth carrying their SSC certificates and copies of curriculum vitae. They were all going to attend the Youth Congress' ‘Talent Hunt'.

It was to select six youths that will foot the bill to be in the Youth Congress state, Krishna and Guntur district committees, Vijayawada and Guntur city committees.

All India Youth Congress general secretary Jyothi Mani and another secretary Rizwan continuously grilled 68 candidates who wanted to be on the Vijayawada committee, 39 candidates for the Krishna district committee all morning. By the time the clock struck five in the evening, they interviewed 30 candidates for Guntur district committee and 14 candidates for Guntur City committee. This process continued late into the evening.

After asking questions about their family background (political and otherwise) and educational qualification, the candidates were grilled about their involvement with the Youth Congress and what ideas they had for strengthening the organisation. Some were even asked which ‘group' they belonged to in the party.

The main hall of the Congress office buzzed with activity with the candidates filling applications and putting all their papers and age proof documents in order. As soon as a candidate came out from the interview room, he was swarmed by other candidates who grilled him about what kind of questions were being asked.

Representations

Even though Ms. Mani made it very clear that no weightage would be given to ‘recommendations', some “senior” Congress leaders came to give representations to her.

The rooms and balconies of Andhra Ratna Bhavan were filled with rumours about the names of different candidates being selected for different posts. While followers of Vijayawada MP Lagadapati Rajagopal chanted the name of Parusupogu Rajiv Rathan, his detractors said that this was all a strategy to demoralise the other. But even candidates who had no political backing whatsoever left the hall with hope.

Kalidindi Agricultural Market Yard chairman and a post-graduate in electronics Dasari Abraham Lincoln and Krishna district Youth Congress committee treasurer and law graduate Nidumolu Subramanyam were in the race for various posts.

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