Winds Of Change: Valley Youth Queue Up For Cong Talent Hunt

9 November 2009
The Indian Express
Majid Jahangir

Srinagar: On a rainy day when the Valley was freezing, 29-year-old Yasin Ahmed Pandit had been waiting anxiously since morning for his turn to go inside the J-K Congress headquarters here. A Botany post-graduate, Pandit had not come for a job: he was here for a special interview to become a Youth Congress leader. The talent hunt, a brainchild of Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, has to pick suitable candidates for the party’s youth wing across the country. And on Monday, the talent hunt was held in Srinagar where senior leaders conducted interviews amid tight security. Around 200 young men and women responded to the talent hunt call and arrived at the party headquarters - a departure from Kashmir’s turbulent past when it was a political taboo to even walk into the Congress headquarters. “I am hopeful of getting into the Congress youth wing in Jammu and Kashmir,” said Pandit, a resident of Dalgate Srinagar, while coming out. “They (interviewer) asked me why I wanted to join the Congress. I told them I had a dream to be part of the party which gives priority to ‘worth’ and not ‘birth’. This is a country where a member borne to a Sikh family can become Prime Minister due his worth. The worth is the priority in the Congress.” Fayaz Ahmed, 22, a computer graduate, is also hopeful of making it to Rahul’s young team in the Valley. “I may be too young for politics, but I have a desire to be part of the party that is keen to accommodate the young people from across the country,” Ahmed said. “We had been waiting for the talent hunt for a long time.” A five-member committee from the Congress comprising senior Congress leader Jagdish Tytler, former president of National Students Union of India Salem Ahmed, president of All India Youth Congress Committee Ashok Tanwar, IYC general secretary Nadeem Javid and coordinator of the talent hunt Sanjay Bose conducted the interviews. “We will be shortlisting candidates through interviews,” said Tanwar. “We will later announce the names of the people who will form the young team of the party in Jammu and Kashmir. Our endeavour is to find talented young men from this place.” “It is encouraging that talented youngsters turned up for the talent hunt interview,” said Congress vice-president Ghulam Nabi Monga. “We want to bring fresh blood with a vision and are ready to work at the grassroots level.” The J&K Congress youth wing has been facing factionalism and a majority of its office-bearers are above 40 years. Recently, a group of youth workers wrote to Rahul Gandhi, seeking his intervention in the party affairs of the youth wing in the state. A similar hunt is scheduled to be held in Jammu on Tuesday.