Sonia gets Rahul loyalists in key posts, drops Azad, Kharge as AICC gen secys

While Congress president Sonia Gandhi formed a special team to help her in party matters, Madhusudan Mistry was chosen to head the party’s Central Election Authority which will conduct polls to choose the next president

The decision by Congress president Sonia Gandhi comes soon after 23 senior leaders wrote to her asking for a complete organisational overhaul

The Congress on Friday (September 11) effected major organisation changes including the formation of a six-member special committee to aid president Sonia Gandhi in her day-to-day matters, a rejig of the party’s Central Election authority which will conduct polls to elect the next president, and changes in the Central Working Committee (CWC).

While Ghulam Nabi Azad, Motilal Vora, Ambika Soni, and Mallikarjun Kharge were dropped as AICC general secretaries, P Chidambaram, Randeep Surjewala, Tariq Anwar, and Jitendra Singh were appointed as the regular members of the CWC.

Azad and Kharge, however, were retained in the CWC.

Madhusudan Mistry was chosen to head the central election authority of AICC while Rajesh Misra, Krishna Byre Gowda, S Jothimani, and Arvinder Singh Lovely are members.

The new members in the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the party’s highest decision-making body, will replace Luizinho Faleiro, who is also removed as AICC general secretary, Vora, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and Tamradhwaj Sahu.

While Chowdhury has been made a permanent invitee of CWC, the other three have been dropped.

The special committee, which will assist Gandhi in organisational and operational matters, will have AK Antony, Ahmed Patel, Ambika Soni, KC Venugopal, Mukul Wasnik and Randeep Surjewala as its members.

The biggest gain seems to be of leaders close to Rahul Gandhi as a majority of them have been allotted new posts. These include general secretaries Randeep Surjewala, Ajay Maken, Jitendra Singh and KC Venugopal.

Some of the young leaders considered close to Rahul have been given key organisational roles as in-charge of various states and figure in the reconstituted CWC as permanent and special invitees.

Surjewala, a Rahul loyalist who currently heads the AICC communications department has also been made the general secretary in-charge for Congress affairs in Karnataka.

Among the leaders who have been made permanent invitees to the CWC include Digvijaya Singh, Jairam Ramesh, Salman Khurshid, Avinash Pande and Chowdhury, who was earlier a regular member of CWC.

Besides, leaders like Pramod Tiwari, Pawan Kumar Bansal, Rajeev Shukla, Dinesh Gundu Rao, Manickam Tagore, HK Patil, Devender Yadav, Vivek Bansal, Manish Chatrath, Kuljit Nagra and Bhakta Charan Das have also been made permanent invitees to the CWC.

From the group of 23 leaders, who had written a letter to Gandhi seeking Congress overhaul, Azad and Sharma continue to be regular members of the CWC, while Jitin Prasada has been made a permanent invitee to CWC from being a special invitee earlier.

Prasada has also been made in-charge of party affairs in West Bengal and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Wasnik, another leader who was among the letter-writers, has been made AICC general secretary in-charge for Madhya Pradesh.

Lovely, also from the group of 23 has been accommodated as a member of the CEA. Anugrah Narayan Singh, Asha Kumari, Gaurav Gogoi and Ram Chandra Khuntia are among those dropped by the Congress as its in-charge for states.

There is no change in the role of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra who will now be the AICC general secretary in-charge for Uttar Pradesh. She was earlier general secretary for Uttar Pradesh East, but was practically taking care of the entire state after Jyotiraditya Scindia, who was general secretary for Uttar Pradesh (West), quit and joined the BJP.

The new AICC general secretaries include Harish Rawat for Punjab, Oomen Chandy for Andhra Pradesh, Tariq Anwar for Kerala and Lakshadweep, Jitendra Singh for Assam, Maken for Rajasthan and KC Vengopal for Organisation.

While Bansal has been made in-charge of AICC administration, those who will look after state affairs include Rajni Patil (Jammu and Kashmir), PL Punia (Chhattisgarh), RPN Singh (Jharkhand), Shaktisinh Gohil (Delhi and Bihar), Rajeev Shankarrao Satav (Gujarat, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu) and Rajeev Shukla (Himachal Pradesh). Others include Dinesh Gundu Rao (Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Goa), Manickam Tagore (Telangana), Chellakumar (Odisha), HK Patil (Maharashtra), Devender Yadav (Uttarakhand), Vivek Bansal (Haryana), Manish Chatrath (Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya), Bhakta Charan Das (Mizoram and Manipur) and Kuljit Singh Nagra (Sikkim, Nagaland and Tripura).

“The party wholeheartedly appreciates the contributions of outgoing general secretaries Azad, Vora, Soni, Kharge and Faleiro,” a statement by AICC general secretary Venugopal said. It also appreciates the contributions of outgoing in-charges Anugrah Narayan Singh, Asha Kumari, Gaurav Gogoi and Ram Chandra Khuntia, it added.

(With inputs from agencies)

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