Rahul Gandhi gets veteran Gujarat Cong man in his core team

About one-and-a-half years ahead of the Assembly election in Gujarat, Congress general secretary in charge of Indian Youth Congress (IYC) and NSUI Rahul Gandhi has inducted a Gujarati in his core team. All India Congress Committee (AICC) committee secretary Deepak Ratilal Babaria, 59, has been attached with Rahul who, until now, opted for a young team to implement his vision of bringing youth into the political mainstream.

Induction of a relatively experienced leader in his team Babaria was founding general secretary of NSUI in the state in 1973 and was with public grievance committee of the Gujarat Youth Congress from 1978 from 1982 has come at a time when the IYC and the NSUI appeared to be losing steam as the focus of these youth organisations remained on internal organisational elections with not much to show in terms of politics of agitation at the grassroots.

Youth Congress and NSUI candidates also failed miserably in Bihar Assembly election and had a below par performance in the last round of Assembly elections in five states.

Besides allegations of fake memberships from many places, the IYC organisational elections also appear to have been hijacked by party veterans to some extent as, almost invariably, children and relatives of veteran politicians and those with money and power have managed to secure top posts in the state units of the Youth Congress.

With the latest addition, Rahul has four secretaries attached with him now Jitendra Singh (Rajasthan), 40; Meenakshi Natarajan (Madhya Pradesh), 37; Shanimol Usman (Kerala), 45; and Deepak Babaria (Gujarat), 59.

Incidentally, Usman and Babaria, whose political activities were mostly confined to their respective states, were catapulted to the national scene about three months back only when they were appointed AICC secretaries.

While Usman had been attached with Rahul at the time of organisational reshuffle, Babaria's entry into Rahul's team came to notice after he attended the Youth Congress's national executive at Rishikesh in Uttarakhand last week. Youth Congress sources said Rahul was giving "a lot of importance" to the former Gujarat PCC general secretary at the meeting.

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