New Delhi: With Rahul Gandhi virtually taking centre-stage in Congress politics, youth power is expected to come to the fore as never before during the party`s Chintan Shivir at Jaipur this week.
This is because for the first time around 160 members from Youth Congress and NSUI will be among the 350 participants during two-day conclave, which has assumed importance in view of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Rahul`s stamp on their participation is clear as he is the AICC general secretary in-charge for these two wings, which are sending maximum representatives to the Shivir, which begins on January 18, among all other front wings of the party.
Rahul, whose "larger role" in Congress is the buzz word, has already been made in-charge of party`s all powerful Election Coordination Committee, which has a key contribution at the conclave.
There were not more than five youth leaders in the earlier two such brainstorming sessions of the party at Panchmarhi and Shimla held in 1998 and 2003, respectively.
As party leaders are projecting the conclave as an attempt to arrive at a "harmonious blend of youth and experience" to get the party`s act together as a precursor to formation of UPA-III, a former Youth Congress leader and Union Minister Manish Tewari said, "Rahul Gandhi is our leader and we look forward to him leading us into battle in 2014."
There were indications from the party earlier that more than one third participants in the conclave could be youth to drive home a message that the party is focusing on a generational change of politics in near future.
The AICC reshuffle, which is pending, could happen soon after the Shivir, that may see Rahul Gandhi`s number two position formalised.
Congress has already stopped the talk of `going it alone`, which dominated its discourse a few years back with the party saying no alliance with Lalu Prasad and Mulayam Singh Yadav in Uttar Pradesh in 2009.
However, after a string of defeats including in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, there is a realisation that the coalition era is to stay and hence while the party formed a special group led by AK Antony to explore alliances, its leaders ranging from P Chidambaram to Manish Tewari have been underscoring the "political reality" of coalitions.
Congress lost power in Gujarat in 1995, in Uttar Pradesh in 1989, in Bihar in 1990, and in Tripura in 1993. It has been out of power in West Bengal for more than three decades barring the brief stint as the Trinamool Congress` ally. In Tamil Nadu, the party has not come to power on its own for well over four decades.
The idea of `Chintan Shivir` was mooted by Sonia Gandhi during the party`s plenary here in December, 2010 but it could not materialise as both the government and the party has battled one crisis after another since then.
Gandhi had then said it will give "an opportunity to refresh our perspectives on crucial national issues and also review the functioning of our organisation. It will be an occasion to hear the voices of our colleagues, particularly the younger ones, to bring new energy to our thinking".
The Shivir will be followed by an AICC meet on January 20.
On November 9 this year, a day-long strategy session named "dialogue meeting" was held at nearby Surajkund in Congress- ruled Haryana in which Gandhi asked the party and the government to pull up their socks for getting a renewed mandate in the next Lok Sabha elections.