Debating India
Home page > Photocopieuse > For Gen-Next MPs, politicking is passe, development is in

For Gen-Next MPs, politicking is passe, development is in

Friday 2 February 2007, by GOPINATH*Vrinda

Have the Congress’ Baba log turned into Jhola log?

New Delhi, Februray 1: On Wednesday, after Congress party president Sonia Gandhi’s Satyagraha gab-fest, one of the few delegates the bashful MP from Amethi, Rahul Gandhi, met later was Nobel laureate and Grameen Bank founder Muhammed Yunus — to understand the dynamic micro-credit system for the poor.

If in Davos 2007, climate change and its destructive effects on world economy was top on the agenda, the 35-year-old Jyotiraditya Scindia, MP from Guna, was already raising the terrifying picture of global warming, carbon emissions, climate change and its disastrous effects on agriculture and food security for the country in Parliament.

Recently, when Finance Minister P Chidamabaram met Congress MPs for a free-wheeling pre-Budget confab for inputs, Sandeep Dikshit, the 39-year-old MP from East Delhi, suggested that the 6th Pay Commission should re-evaluate the hike in salaries for bureaucrats. If the logic was you pay better, you do better, then were bureaucrats more productive today? An efficient bureaucracy leads to success at the ground (read aam admi), he reasoned.

Similarly, at the meeting, Sachin Pilot, the 28-year-old MP from Dausa, Rajasthan, was vocal about his concerns for getting insurance cover for the over two crore coconut climbers of coastal India, where broken bones is an occupational hazard, rather than discuss the exemption limits of taxes for income and savings.

While they may not be hugging trees and wearing vegetable-dyed khadi, the message is clear — it will be a bottom-to-top model.

There’s a clear signal from the top — the thrust now is on development rather than politicking,” says Dikshit. He says his former experience of running an NGO has certainly helped him prioritise his resources and time between politics and service. He is candid when he admits, “It helps when you get associated with the vision of your leaders in the long-run, but meanwhile, how do you enthuse your cadres who are not necessarily so passionate about social development?

Gandhi has travelled the country studying rural community projects from Karnataka to Assam, engaging regularly in mass contact programmes and launching schemes like micronutrient awareness to primary health.

Tejaswini Sreeramesh, 40-year-old former journalist and Congress MP from Kanakpura, Karnataka, is frank when she says she is not concerned with GDP and the Sensex but worries about the poor getting jobs and two meals a day. “Both Rahul and Madam (Sonia) are very much concerned about these issues too,” says Tejaswini in hushed tones. “We have been told to attend Parliament regularly and be vocal and aggressive not only in defending the government but to make informed contributions to formulate policies.

It’s not hippiedom, but the mostly urbane, city-slicker MPs spend considerable time in their constituencies. Pilot, who just hosted the traditional ‘Kheti lunch’ (farmer’s lunch) yesterday, started by his father the late Rajesh Pilot, is all set to leave for his constituency, where he spends at least three days a week, sanctioning tubewells and roads.

Politics of the day has changed,” says Pilot, “sloganeering and posturing is not enough, it’s now delivery-oriented.” The MP, however, believes the leadership across board has changed its view.

Perhaps it is a coincidence but the young generation, educated and global, reflects the new concerns. It doesn’t matter who leads the party, the mindset has changed,” he adds.

Pilot has asked the FM to factor in gender budgeting and grant financial muscle to local bodies to sustain two crucial laws passed recently — abolishing child labour and domestic violence.

Jitin Prasada, 32-year-old MP from Shahjahanpur in UP, is spending his weekend in his constituency (at least four times a month) and is blunt when he says, “The party has always believed you must work at the bottom and move your way to the top. People like Ambika Soni, Mukul Wasnik, Digvijay Singh and Ghulam Nabi Azad have all come from below.

Prasada acknowledges the micro-approach when he says his priority is to build the party at the district and block level. “With polls in UP, it’s crucial,” he says. The high command has already noticed his work. At the public rally he organised in Bareilly, Sonia Gandhi asked him to speak beside her, a first time for Congress workers.

So, where does it leave the Congress’ Gen-Next? In the heartland, and not the power centre, as yet.

See online : The Indian Express

SPIP | template | | Site Map | Follow-up of the site's activity RSS 2.0