Monday, 8 March 2010

IV-Rahul’s Transformation of the Indian Youth Congress : The Stories

This is the fourth in the series of posts about the transformation in the Youth Congress in india. In this post, I blog about the actual process of transformation, and what actually happens on the ground. To go to the first post and follow this series in sequence, please click here.

There are plenty of stories that are there as a part of this process- i will try to give a flavour of the kind of emotions that are going on...

· II met Rahul in August at his office at Tuglaq Road, Delhi. As he described this process of transformation, he came across as someone who was incredibly focused, who knew exactly what he wanted. As he articulated the vision behind this program, with the aura of the quiet success it was already accomplishing- he sounded very confident. He has also proven very adept at getting the right kind of advice and more important, listening to that advice and acting on it- very impressive.

In my October visit, i met “Sathya” in Krishnagiri, in Tamilnadu. Sathya is a chiropractor operating out of Bangalore. Sathya is a loyal congress activist who is given to wearing loud gold watches. When Rahul was on his krishagiri visit, he personally reached out to Sathya, and removed the watch, put it into Sathya’s pocket, and said- “please don’t wear this anymore”- the Gold watch is now amongst Sathya’s most cherished possessions, and is in his locker. I saw quite a few mobile phone screen savers that were the owner in conversation with, or shaking hands with Rahul- Rahul is clearly the hero here...

How do Assembly Returning Officers get allocated their Assemblies? Simple, there is a “lucky draw” of all the sim-cards that are allocated to each assembly- the mobile number is pre-published- and your Assembly constituency is the Sim-Card you pick.

In Gujarat state, where these elections were held second, after Punjab- the organisation had relegated the task of voter list printing for validation to the field, as a result of which most lists were not printed- and this caused massive pandemonium, including scuffles, and accusations. Based on this experience, all printing was centralised.

I am told that conversations are on with Nandan Nilekani , my ex-boss @ Infosys, about the 2 crore members of the IYC membership being a part of the Unique-IDs he is espousing- after all, this is a very good example of a validated, proof checked database that extends into every Panchayat in the country.

In Madurai, i met Suraj Hegde, the grandson of Devaraj Urs, the erstwhile chief minister of Karnataka, the one whose statue is first when you enter the Vidhana Soudha. Suraj is the PRO of Tamil-nadu, the CEO of the entire process, and was a part of the original project Vistaar and the 1 week workshop that started all of this. For the last 2 years, he has been completely immersed in this, and does 18 hour work days and has loads of fun in the process. Extremely capable and totally in charge, Suraj comes across as someone who can be completely trusted to deliver on the massive responsibility he has to discharge- in-fact i met a lot many very capable people through the process- a master stroke has been utilising the cadre from neighbouring states. Given the sometimes rough weather you tend to run into when it comes to politics and elections, these folks, particularly at the LRO and above are immensely capable, typically have 10 years in the field...

This process invariably is resulting in upsetting the existing hierarchy of Congress leadership in the state. In Tamil Nadu, there are 5 factions of congress leadership who are all up in arms against their personal fiefdoms being taken away. I know of atleast 3-4 “crisis” trips to delhi by the organisation to keep these factions at bay and ensure that the process is carried out. And make no mistake, this process is immensely threatening to the existing hierarchy, another proof that this is indeed game changing.

I Believe that When Rahul met Vijay, a superstar in Tamilnadu recently, they explored Vijay’s aspiration to get into politics- that being a standard route in Tamilnadu, where MGR, Karunanidhi, Jayalalitha have all had Tollywood backgrounds before their political careers. And Rahul is said to have told Vijay that he is welcome to join the IYC and, if he wins the elections, he is the chief of the iyc in Tamil Nadu. I don’t think Vijay has responded yet...

The above are intended to give a flavour of the people and the emotions that are driving and around this transformation. The next post is about what Rahul intends to do with the 20 Million youth that are enrolled into the IYC

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