Bhopal: With an aim to debunk propaganda and connect with nearly 45 lakh youths who will be first-time voters in the 2023 Assembly elections, the Madhya Pradesh Congress has constituted the Bal Congress to tap those in the age group of 16 to 20 years.
The sole idea behind creating Bal Congress is to create cadre who imbibe the Gandhi-Nehruvian ideology with ethical values so as to counter the divisive politics of the BJP and expose the lies and propaganda of the RSS, senior party functionary to NewsClick.
With Bal Congress, the party plans to target schools, colleges, coaching centres and major cultural and religious groups, engaging them in various activities including sports, debates to promote intellectual argument. The party has aimed to reach out to 45 lakh youths who are studying in classes between 9th and 12th standard and will be casting their vote for the first time in the Assembly election of 2023.
Speaking on the formation day of Bal Congress, state Congress president Kamal Nath said, "Their (BJP’s) propaganda has overpowered history and has put our future at stake. With the help of online platforms, the BJP is spreading misinformation for political gain. Hence, it is high time to stand firm against hate and misinformation and the Bal Congress will fight it."
The party has termed the new front as a cultural wing that has received over 1,000 memberships in the last two weeks. The party has planned to add over five lakh members by the first foundation day November 14, 2022.
To start with, the Bal Congress will launch its campaign from the Vindhya Region after the board examinations. In the Vindhya region, which comprises districts like Rewa, Satna, Sidhi and Singrauli, the party had faced a humiliating defeat in the 2018 Assembly elections and only managed to win 6 seats out of 30.
Akshay Gupta, a class 10th student from Indore has been appointed the ‘chief captain’ of the Bal Congress. On structure level, Bal Congress will have one state captain, seven zonal captains, 52 district captains and block captains. Each district will have 15 captains who will coordinate with the centralised team led by party leader Vikram Chouhan, Neer Prajapati and Rajkumar Singh, and implement it on the ground.
"To counter RSS propaganda and BJP's divisive politics, we need young and energetic youths who can counter them with truth and facts. With Bal Congress, we will identify the young talents, debaters and train them who will not only counter misinformation but also build caders for the party," said Piyush Babele, a senior functionary of Madhya Pradesh Congress party.
He further said, "The party has been drafting a special curriculum and preparing study material which will focus on the major historical events of modern Indian history. Historical figures and their contribution to the country and society. The role of political parties in the freedom movement and in building India post-independence. The syllabus will also have topics like patriotism, nationalism, fascism, socialism and others."
These study materials will be distributed among the captains and members of the Bal Congress. They will also be shared in the official WhatsApp groups of the Bal Congress. Besides, the captains will take part in the 5-day-long training session which will take place in Bhopal after the board examinations, the party office bearers said.
Bala Bacchan, former Home Minister and senior Congress leader is the in-charge of the Bal Congress. Speaking over the phone he said, "History plays an important role in the politics which is being distorted by the current regime. Our youth who invest hours on social media, don't know the difference between MLA and MP and major historical events. Hence, they easily fell prey to the WhatsApp forward propagandas spread by the BJP and the RSS. To brush up on their historical, political knowledge and develop a logical sense, we are planning to train them. They will do the rest."
Akshay Gupta, captain of the Bal Congress said, "My interest in politics has grown during the 2018 Karnataka assembly election which multiplied after meeting with Kamal Nath during an event in Indore. I don't come from a political background and my aim is to add many many more students like me who don't have a political background but keen to learn."
Talking about future plans, Gupta said, "We have planned to launch our drive in the Vindhya region and later on to the Gwalior-Chambal region to strengthen the party. We will hold cultural, religious events and also engage them in sports, competitive debates and facilitate them. With all these efforts, we will try to bring change in the society and counter misinformation and propaganda."