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Aurangzeb Naqshbandi, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, May 20, 2013
The Congress on Monday removed eight zonal presidents, including two union ministers Jitin Prasada and RPN Singh, in politically important Uttar Pradesh and handed over the charge to local leaders in a bid to tone up the organisation ahead of the next Lok Sabha elections, scheduled for 2014.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had divided UP, a state that sends the maximum number of 80 MPs to the Lok Sabha, into eight zones following the party’s debacle in the 2012 assembly polls to make the organisation fighting fit before 2014 general elections.

Congress sources in UP said Gandhi had received complaints of “non-availability and non-performance” against these zonal heads since the team comprised of union ministers, members of parliament and legislators. “They could hardly devote any time to organisational matters in their zones…This had upset the workers,” a state leader said.

Apart from Prasada and Singh, the others zonal chiefs were PL Punia, Rashid Masood and Raja Ram Pal (all MPs) and Vivek Singh, Anugraha Narain Singh and Nadeem Javed (all MLAs).

However, senior Congress functionaries in Delhi said the two ministers and three MPs have been relieved of the charge to enable them to focus on their respective constituencies as they are certain to contest the next parliamentary elections. This is in line with the decision taken at the party’s Jaipur conclave in January this year that those contesting the elections will hold no organizational responsibility.

The new zonal heads are Pankaj Malik, Deepak Kumar, Vinod Chowdhary, Digvijaya Singh, Lalitesh Pati Tripathi, Bhagwati Chaudhary, Sanjay Kapoor and Dr Muslim. They will be assisted by coordinators. Congress president Sonia Gandhi also appointed 31 district chiefs.