ANDHRA PRADESH

Congress draws plan to attract youth

VIJAYAWADA, FEB. 26. Gearing up for the coming elections, the Congress leadership has launched a new initiative `Disha 2004-Shiksha and Rozgar' to rope in youth into the party.

As part of the initiative, the party has constituted a core group of young leaders who have been asked to travel across the country to explain to the youth, initiatives launched by the previous Congress Governments for youth empowerment and job opportunities. "The initiative has been launched to get the party cadre and leaders into a fighting gear to dislodge the NDA," according to the convener of the intellectual cell of Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC), Congress spokesman, and associate professor of IIM, Bangalore, Rajeev Gowda.

Speaking to reporters here on Thursday, Mr. Gowda, who was here in connection with a Youth Congress meeting, criticised the BJP-led NDA Government for wasting Rs. 400 crores of public money on the `India shining' campaign.

While the NDA promised creation of one-crore jobs every year, the growth rate in employment generation had come down from 2.96 per cent to 2.7 per cent. The TDP, he said, was spending money mobilised from external sources like the World Bank for benefit of the TDP cadre. "The BJP has picked up a leaf from the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu's practice of spending huge amounts on publicity and indulging in wastage of public money," he remarked.

The Congress, on its part, was prepared to offer an alternative by taking up several schemes for youth empowerment. Thrust would be on education, empowerment and entrepreneurship among women. Towards achieving this, the party would bring in necessary reforms in the interest of youth, he said.