Cabinet, AICC reshuffle likely
Saroj Nagi, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, May 22, 2007
First Published: 01:45 IST(22/5/2007)
Last Updated: 01:49 IST(22/5/2007)
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Having completed three years of his five-year term, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh may need to give a new look to his cabinet and Congress President Sonia Gandhi to the All India Congress Committee (AICC), to ready the party for the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.
An exercise of this kind may take
place in the next few weeks after the presidential poll picture becomes clear, said sources. Since APJ Abdul Kalam completes his term on July 24, a new President has to be elected before that.
Whether and when the PM and Sonia will reshuffle their teams has been a matter of conjecture for some time now. It has been more than a year since Ambika Soni, AK Antony and Anand Sharma left the organisation to join the government. These vacancies have to be filled. Likewise, the demand for Amethi MP Rahul Gandhi's induction in the party or government has been on the cards since January 2006, when he dominated the AICC plenary session in Hyderabad.
An organisational restructuring is also needed at the state level. Pradesh Congress Committee chiefs have to be appointed in half a dozen states like West Bengal and Punjab, where Pranab Mukherjee and SS Dullo have resigned.
As many as 18 PCC executives have to be reconstituted. The party also has to assess its performance in the Punjab and Uttarakhand assembly polls, the Delhi and Maharashtra municipal elections and the recent Lok Sabha bypolls. Even in Gujarat, where assembly polls are slated for the year-end, the PCC executive was constituted recently.
Sonia has often said the government's achievements need to be propagated by the party to nurture the organisation in non-Congress states. This includes using the rural employment guarantee Act, currently in operation in 200 districts, most of them in non-Congress-ruled states. "There is a need to build a bridgehead between the party and government," said another Congressman. He said the Hyderabad plenary's decision that Congress ministers visiting states should go to the party office too has also not been followed.
Besides giving effect to the unfinished agenda of the common minimum programme, the government also has to address pending matters like appointments to the Scheduled Caste commission.