It was like infusing a whole new change to the system, which till then operated exclusively on legacy practices and platforms. With a core team from VYM and VCM working in tandem and piloting the endeavour, a-six pillar transformation road-map was laid out with Membership, Elections, Training, Programs, Performance Measurement and Code of Conduct being stepping stones that eventually led to a significant transformation within the VIKALP Family.
A consensus on transformation was reached through a democratic process. Discussions would begin in the morning and carry on till late into the evening. Every single point, every single clause was intensely debated. Consequently, drafts were prepared and submitted to the National Executives of both the organizations for feedback. Finally around April 2016, the structure was ready and Bihar was chosen as the first state to have open membership campaign and organizational elections. The results were amazing, to say the least. The youth of Bihar came out in hordes to support the process and hailed the new system and Kumar’s vision. The successful completion of the membership and election process in Bihar convinced even the naysayers that change was possible, and the team put in even greater effort to fine tune and improve the process as we went along. With every election there were new learning and modifications. For example, after Bihar, it was felt that the traditional Block, District, State model was not working well. The organization therefore changed the VYM election model to Assembly, Lok Sabha and State. Gradually, it moved even further down to the Wards and the Panchayat and today, the VYM is the only organization to have teams even down to the Booth level.
Other changes have also taken place. While initially, only three positions – President, Vice President and General Secretary were contested for, today, we have expanded the team and also have elected Secretaries in the committees. The transformation is a unique endeavour to bring all sections (right from grass roots level) of the society into “mainstream politics,’’ something that no other organization in this country can replicate. The VYM membership and election process has brought in a new vibrancy and diversity within the organization. The VYM members today come from every nook and corner of the country and from different walks of life. They range from newspaper vendors to professionals. Apart from membership and internal elections, other pillars of our transformation process are a comprehensive training regime right down to Assembly and Panchayat level and a detailed program calendar.
Of course, this journey has not always been smooth. The roses and the thorns have co-existed. Criticism of the process – of too much use of money, of the time taken to complete the membership-election cycle in a state, reports of fake and forged membership, of bias etc.– have all done the rounds. In some cases, we have had real crises, and have also initiated strong disciplinary action against anyone who was playing foul with the system. To ensure that the open membership and election process does not remain a one-off, the VYM has also initiated the second round of membership and elections, which have been successfully completed in Delhi, UP and MP. Today, having completed the election cycle in some states, we are justifiably proud of ourselves. At the same time, we realize that this is not the time to rest on our laurels, but to pledge to work even harder and harder to strengthen the organization.