ON A WARM AFTERNOON in early March, five young men arrived at the Indian Youth Congress (IYC) office in -Lucknow to meet Uma Shankar Pandey, the Youth Congress vice president for -central Uttar Pradesh. A lean, clean-shaven 31-year-old with intense dark circles under his eyes, Pandey was sitting behind a desk littered with loose sheets of paper; layers of dust coated the windows and shelves of his office.
Ajay Srivastav, an exceptionally genial man in his early 30s who serves as an IYC general secretary for central UP, led the men into Pandey’s office and introduced them one by one, describing the work each had done for the party. Pandey stood up from a plastic chair, still holding a polythene bag overflowing with files in his left hand, and shook hands with each of the men before turning quickly to more pressing matters.
“Have you prepared the report?” Pandey asked Srivastav.