The Congress on Thursday announced new chiefs for Punjab and Uttarakhand units of the party and appointed Avinash Pande in-charge of party affairs in Rajasthan where assembly election is due for next year.
Party’s Communications Department in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala told reporters that the changes are part of an organisational revamp being gradually implemented by Congress President Sonia Gandhi and party Vice President Rahul Gandhi as part of preparations for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Former Punjab minister Sunil Jakhar has been appointed the state Congress chief in place of Amarinder Singh, who became the Chief Minister after the party romped to power in the state after 10 years.
In Uttarakhand, where the Congress lost the February 15 assembly elections, former state minister Pritam Singh has replaced Kishore Upadhyaya as Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief.
“Changes would also be made in the party organisation in other poll-bound states, like Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh,” Surjewala said.
The party has suffered a series of electoral reverses, including in the recent polls in Uttar Pradesh, and leaders have been making suggestions for drastic changes in the party organisation.
The leadership has opted for step-wise changes rather than going for a single big announcement.
The party on Thursday also appointed four Secretaries to assist Pande, who has been elevated as the General Secretary. The new secretaries are Vivek Bansal, Quazi Mohammad Nizamuddin, Devender Yadav and Tarun Kumar.
Pande replaces Gurudas Kamat, who had requested the high command to relieve him of all organisational responsibilities. However, he continues as a General Secretary.
The Congress has over the past fortnight made appointments to some of the states that will go to the polls before the next Lok Sabha elections in 2019. It appointed new party in-charges in Gujarat and Karnataka where elections will be held in 2017 and 2018, respectively.
Senior leader Digvijay Singh was removed as Congress General Secretary in-charge of Karnataka as well as Goa, and replaced by party MP K.C. Venugopal, who was also elevated as General Secretary.
AICC Secretary A. Chella Kumar has been made in-charge of Goa.
Former Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has been appointed as the in-charge of Gujarat.
Elections in Himachal Pradesh are expected by the year-end. Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh will go to polls next year.
Surjewala said that many of the leaders given new appointments were below 50 years of age.
“Wherever necessary an extremely seasoned person has been made in-charge or General Secretary and a youthful team has been appointed.”
“We do not reject people with credibility and experience and send them to ‘Margdarshak Mandal’,” Surjewala added, taking a swipe at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has a Margdarshak Mandal that has some senior leaders, including L.K. Advani as member.
Surjewala said the party also appointed Vivek Tankha as the new head of All India Congress Committee’s Human and Legal Rights Department.