RAhUL stArts UtiL­is­inG First Gen­er­A­tiOn pOLiti­ciAns

Out of 45 re­cently ap­pointed sec­re­taries in AICC, close to 30 do not have any prior po­lit­i­cal back­grounds. Gandhi in­tends to in­crease the num­ber to 50.

The Sunday Guardian - - Nation -

Congress pres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi seems to be mak­ing a con­scious ef­fort to give op­por­tu­ni­ties to first gen­er­a­tion politi­cians at dif­fer­ent hi­er­ar­chi­cal lev­els in the party. In the on­go­ing process of re­place­ments and ap­point­ments in the All In­dia Congress Com­mit­tee (AICC), Gandhi is plac­ing re­gional lead­ers with a con­sid­er­able fol­low­ing in the sec­ond-rung of AICC lead­er­ship, while the top most po­si­tions con­tinue to be held by se­niors.

Out of 45 re­cently ap­pointed sec­re­taries in AICC, close to 30 have no prior po­lit­i­cal back­ground. Sources have con­firmed that Gandhi in­tends to in­crease this num­ber to 50 more such lead­ers at var­i­ous hi­er­ar­chi­cal lev­els in AICC, lead­ers who have built a rep­u­ta­tion on their own with­out any fam­ily links in pol­i­tics. Most of the peo­ple are only known in re­gional cir­cles and have been scouted by se­nior lead­ers.

A ma­jor­ity of the sec­re­taries who have been as­signed spe­cific states are young faces who started their po­lit­i­cal ca­reer with the Na­tional Stu­dents’ Union of In­dia (NSUI), the Congress’ stu­dents’ wing ac­tive in var­i­ous uni­ver­si­ties. Two key faces in this cat­e­gory are Sud­han­shu Tri­pathi, who has been ap­pointed as sec­re­tary, Mad­hya Pradesh, and Chan­dan Ya­dav, who is sec­re­tary, Ch­hat­tis­garh.

Tri­pathi, a lawyer by pro­fes­sion, hails from Jhansi where he joined Congress through NSUI in 1986. In 1998, Tri­pathi be­came the state pres­i­dent of Youth Congress. From 2006 to 2014, he was the dis­trict pres­i­dent of Jhansi. Be­fore be­ing ap­pointed as a sec­re­tary, Tri­pathi was work­ing with the se­nior lead­ers in the Ut­tar Pradesh Congress Com­mit­tee along with the Jhansi and Kan­pur di­vi­sions. On the other hand is Chan­dan Ya­dav who hails from Bi­har and is a first gen­er­a­tion politi­cian who started his po­lit­i­cal ca­reer with NSUI. A PhD scholar from Jawa­har­lal Nehru Univer­sity, Ya­dav is the sec­ond leader from Bi­har to be made sec­re­tary in AICC. Be­fore that, MP Ran­jit Ran­jan was given this role.

Among oth­ers are three young sec­re­taries of Odisha whom Gandhi has trusted with state charges—G. Ru­dra Raju, Anil Ku­mar Chaud­hary and Shaikh Mas­tan Vali.

How­ever, sources within the party also high­lighted that while Rahul Gandhi has been bring­ing ed­u­cated, young and re­gion­ally pop­u­lar peo­ple in AICC, most of them are close to cer­tain state lead­ers’ camps, thus hint­ing that there still re­main tal­ented faces who have yet not been recog­nised.

A case in point is Mad­hya Pradesh where Gandhi has ap­pointed three sec­re­taries, namely Var­sha Gaik­wad, Harsh­ward­han V. Sap­kal and Sud­han­shu Tri­pathi. While Var­sha Gaik­wad is the daugh­ter of Ek­nath Gaik­wad, who has served as Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment for three terms, Sap­kal and Tri­pathi are both first gen­er­a­tion politi­cians who have served in po­si­tions close to AICC. Sap­kal is mem­ber of 13th Ma­ha­rash­tra Leg­isla­tive As­sem­bly and has served as an ob­server in Ra­jasthan, Ut­tar Pradesh and Bi­har As­sem­bly elec­tions. Tri­pathi, too, has been closely as­so­ci­ated with the Ut­tar Pradesh and Bi­har se­nior lead­er­ships.

While some young sec­re­taries have been given state charge, other newly ap­pointed sec­re­taries have been at­tached with se­nior lead­ers to work on the ground level in var­i­ous states. Some of these first gen­er­a­tion politi­cians who have been picked by Gandhi are Prakash Joshi from Ut­tarak­hand, Man­ickam Tagore from Tamil Nadu, P.C. Vishu­nadh from Ker­ala, Shaikh Mas­tan Vali from Andhra Pradesh, Jitu Pat­wari from Mad­hya Pradesh and Zubair Khan from Ra­jasthan.

Man­ickam Tagore, who has been re­port­ing to K.C. Venu­gopal, AICC gen­eral sec­re­tary, in-charge of Kar­nataka, told The Sun­day Guardian, “The idea is to give us ex­po­sure among the ground work­ers, gain ex­per­tise and build our­selves as lead­ers. I have been at­tached to Venu­gopal’s of­fice for a year now and all this while I have wit­nessed a con­stant rise in the dy­namism of Congress’ work­ing.”

It is part of Gandhi’s strat­egy to give charge of a sin­gle state to mul­ti­ple sec­re­taries or at­tach them to a se­nior state leader and di­vide con­stituen­cies among them, who then re­port to a sin­gle gen­eral sec­re­tary. Most of such sec­re­taries are from the “young” brigade that Gandhi in­tends to har­ness.

There is also a lim­i­ta­tion on how long a sec­re­tary at­tached to a se­nior state leader can con­tinue to hold that po­si­tion. Some sources con­firmed that it has been di­rected by the cen­tral lead­er­ship that none of the sec­re­taries in­volved with state-spe­cific work should con­tinue in the same state for over a year- and-a-half. Such ap­point­ments should be strictly tem­po­rary in na­ture. There­fore, while a leader will con­tinue to be a sec­re­tary in the AICC, he will not be al­lowed to work in a sin­gle state for a long time. Asked about the ben­e­fits of such an ex­er­cise, Tagore said, “The sec­re­taries who have been given state charge or who have been at­tached to of­fices of state lead­ers, were told to visit our des­ig­nated states at least 100 days in a year. So if there are a to­tal three or more sec­re­taries work­ing in a sin­gle state, round the year, a con­tin­u­ous ob­ser­va­tion can be done.” Af­ter get­ting the green light from the Union Cabi­net on 21 March this year, the Cen­tre has started pre­par­ing a roadmap for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of its am­bi­tious Ayush­man BharatNa­tional Health Pro­tec­tion Mis­sion (AB-NHPM). Last week, a meet­ing in this re­gard was held by the Min­istry of Health to dis­cuss two ma­jor chal­lenges—prevent­ing fraud claims and tack­ling the prob­lem of lack of hospi­tal net­work in ru­ral ar­eas, sources close to the Min­istry of Health said.

Ac­cord­ing to sources, the Cen­tre is likely to an­nounce the im­ple­men­ta­tion of its am­bi­tious AB-NHPM scheme by the end of this year. The scheme en­vis­ages med­i­cal cov­er­age to 10 crore poor fam­i­lies, with an an­nual in­surance ceil­ing up to Rs 5 lakh per fam­ily.

A se­nior of­fi­cial of a pri­vate sec­tor in­surance com­pany told The Sun­day Guardian, “In the meet­ing, gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials dis­cussed var­i­ous is­sues, in­clud­ing ways of prevent­ing fraud claims that are ex­pected to rise with the launch of ABNHPM. Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials also showed their con­cern about the lack of net­work of hos­pi­tals in ru­ral ar­eas.”

To meet the de­mands of AB-NHPM, more gov­ern­ment med­i­cal col­leges and hos­pi­tals need to be opened; how­ever, the present sce­nario is dis­mal as there are 479 med­i­cal col­leges af­fil­i­ated to the Med­i­cal Coun­cil of In­dia (MCI), as op­posed to 543 par­lia­men­tary con­stituen­cies. The dis­tri­bu­tion of these col­leges is also not even.

“Cur­rently, there is no stan­dard pro­ce­dure in place to pro­vide treat­ment for any dis­ease in the coun­try. Hos­pi­tals also take ad­van­tage of this and ini­ti­ate un­nec­es­sary pro­ce­dures for pa­tients’ treat­ment. In or­der to ef­fec­tively im­ple­ment AB-NHPM, such prac­tices also need to be checked. The Cen­tre and in­surance com­pa­nies are con­tem­plat­ing to cre­ate a mech­a­nism in this re­gard,” the same of­fi­cial cited above said.

A se­nior health min­istry of­fi­cial told The Sun­day Guardian: “No doubt, there is short­age of a net­work of hos­pi­tals in the ru­ral ar­eas. How­ever, the pres­ence of small nurs­ing homes has in­creased and that can prove to be a driv­ing force in pro­vid­ing free treat­ment un­der the in­surance scheme. Also, un­der AB-NHPM, the gov­ern­ment has pro­posed open­ing of more hos­pi­tals, es­pe­cially in ru­ral ar­eas.”

“The Min­istry of Health is cur­rently iden­ti­fy­ing the in­ac­cu­rate records in its data­base and plan­ning to in­sert the names of the tar­geted ben­e­fi­cia­ries. In ru­ral ar­eas, the gov­ern­ment has in­ducted the ru­ral devel­op­ment min­istry and gram pan­chay­ats as fa­cil­i­ta­tor for AB-NHPM, whereas in the ur­ban space, the gov­ern­ment has charted out a plan to en­sure the in­volve­ment of civic au­thor­i­ties for im­ple­men­ta­tion of scheme,” the health min­istry of­fi­cial added.

The Union Bud­get pre­sented by Fi­nance Min­is­ter Arun Jait­ley on 1 Fe­bru­ary this year unveiled the AB-NHPM, a mega healthcare project which the gov­ern­ment claimed was the world’s big­gest healthcare scheme.

The AB-NHPM will tar­get up to 50 crore in­di­vid­u­als from fi­nan­cially vul­ner­a­ble house­holds, a de­mo­graphic that ac­counts for al­most 41.3% of the to­tal Be­low Poverty Line (BPL) pop­u­la­tion.


Peo­ple cheer as they at­tend the civic fe­lic­i­ta­tion of Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi in Janakpur, Nepal, on Fri­day.

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