Monday, August 8, 2022

Congress organisational revamp signals generational shift, effort to move on from letter controversy

Congress President Sonia Gandhi has sought to bring about a generational shift through organisational revamp done on Friday with an eye on future electoral challenges and has also sent a signal that the party has “moved on” from the fierce intra-party debate generated by the letter of 23 leaders to her which had called for sweeping reforms.

Party leaders said that the AICC revamp is “balanced” and some of the signatories to the letter have been given prominent roles. ‘She has sent a signal that the party has moved on from the letter episode. This is in keeping with her words earlier of bygones being bygones and about working together,’ said a party leader, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Twenty-three party leaders in their letter to her had called for sweeping changes including “full-time and effective leadership”, an institutional mechanism to guide the party and elections to Congress Working Committee.

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Senior leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mukul Wasnik and Anand Sharma were among signatories to the letter and had sought elections to CWC and have been retained in the highest decision-making body.

In the reshuffle announced on Friday, Azad, Motilal Vora, Ambika Soni, Mallikarjun Kharge and Luizinho Falerio were dropped as general secretaries and younger leaders were given charge of several states as part of efforts to build the party’s team for the electoral challenges in states ahead and the next Lok Sabha elections.

Apart from Randeep Singh Surjewala, Jitendra Singh and Tariq Anwar were brought in as general secretaries. A party functionary said there has been “a generational shift” with several young leaders given responsibilities. He said Surjewala and some other leaders have been “rewarded for their hard work”.

Surjewala is the biggest gainer in the reshuffle as he is now a full member of the working committee, is the general secretary in charge of Karnataka besides being a member of the panel to assist chief Sonia Gandhi. Both Surjewala and Jitendra Singh are considered members of team Rahul, which has gained in the reshuffle.

Other leaders who are relatively young and considered part of Team Rahul in extended CWC include Manickam Tagore, Sushmita Dev, Kuldeep Bishnoi, Jitin Prasada, Shaktisinh Gohil, Devender Yadav, RPN Singh, Dinesh Gundu Rao, Sachin Rao, Rajeev Satav, Lalji Desai, Deepender Hooda, Vivek Bansal, Neeraj Kundan and BV Srinivas.

The expanded CWC now has 57 members from 52 earlier. Jitin Prasada, who was among the signatories to the letter, has been made in-charge of West Bengal, a crucial state which will go for elections next year.

The special committee of six leaders assist the Congress President in “organisational and operational matters” includes Mukul Wasnik, who was among signatories to the letter. The six-member committee will continue to function until the next AICC session. He has also been made general secretary in-charge of Rajasthan.

The five members of reconstituted Central Election Authority also includes former Delhi minister Arvinder Singh Lovely, who was among the letter signatories. While most of the general secretaries and in-charges of states are younger leaders of the party, the CWC is a mix of young and experienced leaders.

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