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HindustanTimes Sun,28 Dec 2014

A message in the reshuffle: Cong gets into combat mode

Aurangzeb Naqshbandi, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, October 29, 2012
First Published: 00:05 IST(29/10/2012) | Last Updated: 13:03 IST(29/10/2012)

After the much-awaited cabinet reshuffle on Sunday, all eyes are now set on the organizational revamp in the Congress that is expected to be carried out keeping in mind the next Lok Sabha elections, scheduled in 2014, and assembly polls in six states next year.

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With his refusal to join the UPA government, Rahul Gandhi is all set to play a bigger role in the party. The fact that his close associates Meenakshi Natarajan and Manicka Tagore have been retained in the organisation shows that Gandhi will have a major say in the party reshuffle.

Restructuring the organisational set-up has been high on Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s agenda ever since the party's poll drubbing in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Goa early this year.

The tone for it has already been set with the resignation of seven ministers, including veteran leaders Ambika Soni and Mukul Wasnik, ahead of the reshuffle. Both Soni and Wasnik are set to be given key positions in the party as Gandhi is expected to announce the changes anytime soon.

While Soni had occupied important organisational posts — she had served as Gandhi's political secretary and also headed the party’s media department — in the past, Wasnik till now held the dual responsibilities as a minister and a general secretary. At present, he is in-charge of party affairs in Rajasthan.

Though the Congress leadership has found it difficult to follow the ‘one-man-one-post’ principle so far, party sources suggested that the policy would be strictly implemented henceforth.

Accordingly, health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad could be divested off his organisational responsibilities — he is general secretary in-charge of Andhra Pradesh, a state in turmoil over the complex Telangana issue, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry —in the party reshuffle.

Commenting on the development, senior party leader Janardan Dwivedi said such interchange of responsibilities from party to government and vice versa is normal.

He also dismissed contention that some people have been ignored in the exercise, saying the party was a “big ocean” which accommodates all.

Apart from Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat that are going to polls in coming November and December, assembly elections will be held in Tripura, Karnataka, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan in 2013.

With allegations of corruption flying thick against Congress ministers, the task, therefore, is cut out for the leadership — to put the party back on track and once again turn it into a fighting machine ahead of the next general elections.


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