Political leaders should quit active posts at 70 years: Janardan Dwivedi

New Delhi, Aug 28: Stoking a fresh controversy, Senior Congress leader Janardan Dwivedi on Thursday said people in politics should not continue in active posts beyond 70 years of age. Dwivedi, who will be 69 next month and feels marginalised in the party, told reporters that 65 or 70 should be the age for people to go out of active posts and take up other roles instead.

He, however, hastened to add that posts like that of Presidents of political parties, President of India, Vice President and Prime Minister may be treated as exceptions. Dwivedi, who had earlier made some controversial comments like economic criteria based reservation and Priyanka Gandhi's interest in politics, gave this answer when asked whether the age ceiling would also reply to Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

The remarks of Dwivedi, who is the General Secretary in charge of the Organisation, are signficant as they come days after BJP dropped veterans Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi from the Parliamentary Board and named them in Margdarshak Mandal, mentor's group. They have come at a time when there is intense speculation about imminent changes in the AICC setup with the younger generation likely to call the shots and leaders of Dwivedi's generation may be replaced.

The Congress leader, who will soon turn 69, had earlier made certain comments which were interpreted as critical of the younger leadership. Citing examples of various other fields where elders handover the responsibility to a young team, Dwivedi said "similarly generational change is also necessary in politics. After certain age, people should not live on active posts in a political organisation". 

Dwivedi said that an age limit of 65 or 70 can be fixed for after consideration. At the same time, he said he is not saying that leaders should retire from politics.

"I am not saying that they should retire, but the posts which require a lot of running around and physical capacity should be held by people younger. There are other responsibilities which elder leaders can take up but they should keep away from active posts", he said.

He was responding to a question about decision of the BJP to keep Vajpayee, Advani and Joshi out of the party's apex decision making body-the Parliamentary Board and nominating them to a Margdarshak Mandal.

"Whatver BJP has done, why and with whom they have done it is their politics and nobody should be commenting on the affairs of other parties beyond certain limits. Whatever has to be said on the issue has already been said by Congress, but I can give my personal opinion.

"I have been of this view for a long time that there should be a timeline for people in public life as it is in other walks of life," he remarked. To a question on whether he wants his 65 or 70 formulae also to be applicable to 67-year-old Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Dwivedi said, "the post of Congress President has been an exception in many respects".

"There is a resolution of the Congress Working Committee that no leader should hold two posts but the Congress President and Prime Minister have been kept off it."

He said that there are certain posts like Party President, President of India, Vice President and Prime Minister on which such age restriction is not be binding. Dwivedi said that while he was not raising questions on the intellectual capacity of elder leaders. But as far as Congress is concerned, he believes that it is younger people who should be holding the active posts.

"Then there are all kinds of committtess for deliberations, other responsibilites. Others can give their contribution in all other ways," he said. When asked whether he supports another Congress leader Jairam Ramesh' earlier remarks that those above 70 should retire from active politics, Dwivedi said that he was not talking about retirement but "making a difference between active posts and other responsibilities".


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