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Politics

Charges of Favouritism After Youth Congress National Executive Reconstituted

Outgoing members of the national executive told The Wire that the reconstitutions were made by selectively using and misusing the norms and procedures.

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New Delhi: The recent reshuffle of the national executive of the Indian Youth Congress (IYC) has run into a controversy, with many outgoing office-bearers alleging that the IYC president Srinivas B.V. and AICC-in-charge of IYC Krishna Allavuru have accommodated their favourites by violating established norms and procedures for appointments.

Speaking to The Wire, an outgoing member of the national executive team, who did not want to be named, said the last national executive was abruptly dissolved despite being one of the best-performing teams. “The outgoing team was elected in March 2020 and was supposed to have a three-year tenure. After two-and-a-half years have passed, a new team was constituted abruptly. None of us knows why.”

They also allege that some members included in the reconstituted national executive were ineligible to be office-bearers.

At least three new IYC secretaries – Sravan Rao, Mamta Nagireddy, and Pinky Mudgal – are above the age of 35, the prescribed age limit to enter the IYC national committee. At least two new general secretaries – Purna Chandra Padhi (37) and Rushikesh Shelke (40 years and two months) – were also older than the upper age to be on the national committee, the outgoing member said. 

A person who is above 35 years of age cannot enter the IYC national committee. At the same time, one cannot be 40 years or more and continue as a national committee member.

Outgoing members who spoke to The Wire also alleged that at least three new secretaries are currently under suspension or have been expelled because of different disciplinary actions taken against them earlier. One Uttar Pradesh PCC member – Jitendra Kumar Tiwari, against whom disciplinary proceedings were initiated before being put under suspension – has been appointed as a new secretary. Similarly, Jabalpur-based Pinki Mudgal – whose primary membership of the party was suspended for six years after she was found to be making anti-Congress remarks – was also accommodated in the national committee. Expelled NSUI member Vandana Ben has been appointed as one of the new IYC secretaries.

Members of the last national executive said the interview panel which selected the new team was put together at the behest of Srinivas and Krishna Allavuru by disregarding established norms. “The interview panel comprised the IYC president, IYC-in-charge and senior leaders of the Congress generally. But the one that selected the new national committee only had those men who are considered Srinivas’s associates,” the outgoing member said. 

The interview panel comprised Purnachandra Padhi, the nominated president of the Chhattisgarh Pradesh Youth Congress (PYC); Vikrant Bhuria, state PYC president of Madhya Pradesh; Rahul Rao, the media head who is not a part of the national committee; Amarpreet Lalli, who has been given the charge of Himachal Pradesh despite not being a part of the national committee anymore; and Rushikesh Shelke, a corporation-level party worker who was over 40 when he conducted the interviews. 

“Strikingly, one of the interviewers, Padhi, was selected to be in the national committee,” the outgoing member said. 

The IYC’s activities under the leadership of Srinivas have constantly garnered attention over the last two few years, especially when it provided relief during the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 and the devastating second wave in May 2021. Therefore, allegations of favouritism against the IYC president weeks after the party’s Chintan Shivir, in which the party resolved to adopt various organisational reforms at every level, are likely to tarnish his reputation.

Srinivas BV. Photo: PTI

Outgoing members also said that some of the new office-bearers were directly brought into the national committee without having played a role as an elected representative in the PYC units, in direct violation of the resolution passed in the 2021 Goa national executive. Moreover, the outgoing members were not accommodated in either the All India Congress Committee or Pradesh Congress Committees, as has been the norm, they said.   

“Around 180 people were interviewed through two rounds for the national committee. However, some who didn’t go through the interview were also selected, while those who were removed were not given any reason for their ouster,” an outgoing member of the IYC national executive said. 

The ousted members claimed that under Srinivas’s leadership, Shelke, who is above 40, was retained while many others were removed because of their age. Similarly, they said that many who did not contest at the district or assembly level for the IYC were directly appointed either as the general secretaries of PYCs or were elevated to the IYC without any performance review.  

“One such appointment stands out. If you remember, two men were caught by the [Delhi] police while transporting alcohol during the lockdown. One of them, Shravan Rao, who is above the age of 35, was included in the national committee,” they said. 

The whole selection process preceded the Dharmashala national executive of the IYC that happened between June 7-9, 2022. “All those who were removed were not called for the conference, although they continued to be office-bearers at the time. They had no information from the IYC president about their ouster,” one ousted member said

“The problem is that most of the selections were made randomly by selectively using and misusing the norms and procedures. For example, some existing secretaries who are past 40 continue to keep their posts, while others were denied despite being eligible. Similarly, non-elected members have been appointed secretaries of the IYC,” one outgoing member told The Wire. 

This arbitrary selection only reflects the way the IYC has been functioning over the past few years, the youth leader said. “While a new national committee was reconstituted before the term of the old committee was completed, there are many PYCs where elections are pending for more than two years and are being run by nominated office-bearers – all of whom are considered to be close associates of either Srinivas or Allavuru,” they alleged.

Multiple calls by The Wire to IYC president Srinivas B.V., AICC in-charge Krishna Allavuru and AICC general secretary (organisation) K.C Venugopal were declined. Separate text messages seeking their response to the allegations were also sent to them. Allavuru only said that the matter should be discussed with the IYC president.

This story will be updated if the IYC leaders respond.