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How one picture tells the story of an ageing Congress party

Average age of Congress leaders in front row at party's I-Day event in Delhi was 70.7 years. This showed Rahul Gandhi’s 2007 push for young blood has failed.

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New Delhi: If one picture could sum up what ails the Congress, it is the frame showing an array of leaders standing in the front row at the Independence Day event last Thursday at the party headquarters when interim chief Sonia Gandhi hoisted the national flag.

The average age of leaders in the front row is approximately 70.7 years — a clear sign that the party is ageing in the absence of fresh talent. Most of these leaders are members of the party’s top decision making body, the Congress Working Committee, whose average age is 69 years.

It was in 2007 that Rahul Gandhi was appointed AICC general secretary in-charge of the Indian Youth Congress and the NSUI. He embarked on an ambitious ‘democratisation’ process, holding internal elections in these organisations, with the promise of giving an opportunity to the youth to join the political mainstream.

Twelve years later, the picture above is proof that he failed.

The old guard

At Sonia Gandhi’s first public event since taking over as interim chief, a flock of leaders of the party’s ‘old guard’ descended upon the Congress headquarters — from Motilal Vora (91), the oldest in the group, to Rahul Gandhi (49), the youngest.

Sonia Gandhi hoisting the national flag at Congress headquarters on August 15. | Photo: Suraj Singh Bish
Sonia Gandhi hoisting the national flag at Congress headquarters on August 15. | Photo: Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint

The event was attended by Manmohan Singh (86), A.K. Antony (78), Anand Sharma (66), Ahmed Patel (69), Kapil Sibal (71), Bhupinder Hooda (71), Mohsina Kidwai (87), Kumari Selja (56), Jagdish Tytler (75), Salman Khurshid (66), Subodh Kant Sahay (68), Ghulam Nabi Azad (70) and K.C. Venugopal (56), among others.

Even the young leaders, mostly dynasts who rose up the ranks, don’t have a voice in the decision-making process. It was evident when many leaders such as Deepender Hooda, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Jitin Prasada, among others, supported the NDA government’s move to scrap Article 370, making a departure from the party line decided by veterans such as P. Chidambaram and Ghulam Nabi Azad. These younger leaders accused the seniors of being “unable to sense the public mood”.

Also read: Not terrorists, not Congress nor voters, this is who scares PM Narendra Modi the most

Batting for young blood

Many within the Congress feel that the party needs young blood to recover from the setback of the Lok Sabha elections.

Former Union minister Karan Singh suggested appointing four working presidents for the north, south, east and west zones, to introduce “younger people into positions of authority”. Singh has strongly urged the CWC to convene under the chairmanship of former prime minister Manmohan Singh and take the decision.

But Karan Singh wasn’t the only one making a case for inducting younger leaders in positions of power. Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh Saturday batted for a “charismatic gen-next leader who can enthuse the people with her or his pan-India appeal and grassroots presence”.

Even former Mumbai Congress president Milind Deora made a case for Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot or former MP Jyotiraditya Scindia.

However, despite Rahul opting for a “larger democratic consultation” to elect the new chief, the party decided to go with former president Sonia in the time of crisis, leaving many in the party “disappointed”.

“We can sit here and talk about non-dynast, but on the ground, no one recognises them. At this point, the party needs a Gandhi,” a senior Congress leader told ThePrint.

Also read: What made Sonia Gandhi repeat history and take charge of Congress again


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  1. Age or no age. Dynasty has ruined this party. Congress talks about democracy but itself is not Democrat. Suddenly one fine morning, Priyanka Vadra is inducted as a general secretary. What about people working so hard for so many years? Revival of Congress is very difficult.

  2. A national party which can not run without a family, how could that party believe that can run India,
    Means Congress only want walefare of a single family, even in the cost of itself,
    Age never was a matter, it’s the thinking, that made Congress to lose लोकसभा election,

  3. Only young blood would not suffice. Supporting govt on Kashmiri issue by youngers shows their insolvency regarding history of freedom movement and the principles for which the party stands. Public opinion should not be the sole guide to national interest.

  4. A picture is enough to tell the whole story, Mr.Modi proved that a single person can bring the feeling of nationalism,pride and honour and the goons of congress in the picture proved how a single party can destroy the whole nation for their own benefit.

  5. Aging is a natural process but being blind hold, lacking vision and adapting to aspirations reality is a cruel crime The Original Indian National Congress is dead long long ago in late 30s with the exit of Netaji The interim Congress since BV Quit India movement did everything wrong Since Nehru all the pariwar continued to damage the Nation Sonia is the most I’ll qualified and the coteries in Gandhi’s name lootted 24×7 Now the residue Congress is Rudderless vacuum in vision and beyond redemption Tragic epilogue of the Freedom movement Congress

  6. A geriatric band of second rung leaders, a large group of capable, intelligent, and articulate young leaders who are never allowed to ‘steal’ the glory of the so called “seniors” and kept scrupulously away from assuming any importance, even if due to them, and, above them all. “The Family.” This is all that the Congress ever was, is, and wants to be. It was never a ‘political party’ but, strictly a “Family Business”; a big, “Mom & Pop” shop.

  7. It is very bitter comment, but equally true. Congress is no longer the same old Congress of post independence era. After it split into Congress (o) and Congress (I). The ( O) was finished and what remained is a dynastic cheater looter party. For furthering their own interests they don’t mind sacrificing national interest. Those who surround the Italian family, are selfish psycophants.

  8. It is good that The Print is ‘willing’ to take feedback. Everything matures with age should it be within its life span according to Nature’s scheme of things. But then I would like to coin a new usage : Congress is going against the grain. It is ‘immaturing’ with age!

  9. Ofcourse shah,ji, modi ji,bhagvat ji are all 25, as they are only running the country, oh i forgot jetly ji, advani ji, etc.

  10. If old gaurds of congress do not see the mood of the enviroment for younger leaders with change idealogy so be it . Soon we will head for congress mukt india
    3 cheers to Mr Modi for his efforts

  11. Sir,
    How long this expired slogans like FAMILY, LOOT , NEHRU will be used?
    May be they have not expired yet?
    I believe India as a nation today stands because of Congress and it’s leaders.
    How can you forget the progress India achieved congress rule of 70 years? Roads, Railways, Schools, Technical colleges, IT, internet, mobile, other infrastructure, equal votes for all. A dalit becoming chief minister and what not? Of course, there are riots, corruptions and negative aspects too.
    Those who oppose this progress are in fact Desh Drohi.
    Anyway let’s make India great and salute those who help it build . Every Indian contributed in India’s making.
    Please don’t be after some leaders just because you have one sided look of Indian history.

  12. The Govt of India should initiate an enquiry under the title *assets disproportionate to income* against all these in the front row. Skeletons will emerge from their and their relatives cupboards. No lawyer will be able to save them. They have followed the pattern of Britishers to loot India. These Congressmen are a living curse on Mother Earth.

  13. They congress should reinvent themselves like New Labour in 1990 after Lady Thtchers government in the UK.18 years labour was continuously defeated. Lord Kinnock failed to bring down the
    Thatcher government.
    New Labour started after Thatcher was thrown out because of her dictatorship by her own party..Something like today’s Modi saheb attitude.
    Modi will go like Thatcher one day.when that day comes God knows.It is a formidable task to remove him.A banana skin will come.There are no more talented people in BJP.Talented people like sushma , jaitley Parikar,are not there.Sithramsn is yesterdays woman.what international experience she got compared to Dr Tharur or Cambridge qualified Iyer a fluent Hindi and English speaker.It had been proved by Tharur that Patel is responsible for article 370 from declassified documents.What is Modis reply now.Congress will come to power once soniya leaves.It has fundamentals and it is deep rooted and it is like a banyan tree not yet dead.Today it lacks a talented leader.Gandhis are not the right people which Rahul realised not Soniya.We have to wait for the day to seer Congress in power.

  14. The so called Dynasty will never ever allow the young blood to come up. Also the existing old crocodiles will take advantage of this and establish their empire which will destroy the Party shortly. The will happen to BJP also. Younger generation views must b hear and respected, otherwise they will face serious problems in 2024 election, the day is not far off.

  15. Appropriate comment given on Congress political party. In fact each and everyone of Congress followers are begger and thief minded with most oppertunist, they don’t preserve sence helping national to improve and act like DESHDROHI. FUTURE GENERATION WILL NO MORE TOLERATE THEIR PHENOMENON.

  16. Very adroitly since 1947 the muslims and the communists have steered the party towards socialism and pro muslim secularism.China and Russia and Nehruji helped in this.Minority fear goaded muslims towards secularism.
    Hindus have woken up.Communism has failed the world.Congress has no new Idea.

  17. Congress has not only aged physically but also mentally. It continues to believe in the politics of past which doesn’t work now. This dinosaur is taking its last breath. Soon Congress would be extinct like dinosaurs couldn’t adjust to changed environment.

  18. Writing is on wall. This gathering of geriatric, senile and corrupt lot is now practically on ventilator. Without new blood and new ideas, this the obituary is written. RIP Congress.

  19. This one picture of antinational dacoit Congress leaders and fake dynast family members speaks volumes about the great national loot, and how each and every member of this political party ruthlessly looted India and made huge empires for them shelves and their tens of generations to come, depriving common masses of real development and progress. We the people of India of late realised that our country no more need these dacoits to run this country, rather sell this country to our enemies. Hell with the looter cheater mafia party. All the looted booty must be recovered from these rogues and then they all be hanged till death, so that once for all our internal enemy disguised as Congress must be buried in the interest of India.

    • This pic shows the expertises that the good old party holders. Definitely India need to utilizes these experienced blood.

    • BJP agents cannot understand the contributions of Indian National Congress to India. Congress fought for the freedom of this country and lead the nation for over 70 years. If any Congressmen is guilty take action against them. What happened on 2G , Coal scam. These r only propaganda of BJP, RSS . Congress will regain past glory soon.

    • Ulas comment has no value as he speaks with info of present politics . The situation of today and the situation of yesteryears were very different . The people they dealt with , the people’s thinking , wants , yesteryear technology , yesteryears world politics etc etc all were very different and gad to be dealt with accordingly to that period . It is very appreciative that India has been moving very progressively with such a huge diverse population . Of course we could have done better and faster . But that speed is still not seen even now . Even today curruption , corporate bullying , open looting , lynching , submissive media are very much present. It is not Congress or any political party to blame but it is the people who are responsible then and now to blame for allowing these exploitation to happen . We are the one voting them to power . We are the one who make them rule us .
      Why do we still have starvations , deprived of basic medical facilities , zero care for senior citizens , lack of toilets , rubbish dumping every where , filthy rivers , air pollution at the highest , is only Congress answerable to all these ? Are not the citizens responsible ? Citizens then and citizens now ?

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