The Congress high command by appointing Ambika Soni as party in-charge for Jammu and Kashmir has tried to send a stern message that it will act strict on factionalism and inter-ministerial feud.
Amibak Soni, who had been in-charge of the state since 2001 to 2007, has replaced Mohan Parkash, who was seen too soft to take the hard decisions, and whose authority was often challenged by the party leaders.
Soni has been given the charge on account of her ability to handle the party affairs and also because of her close affiliation with the Gandhi family, it would be difficult for party leaders to bypass her and approach the 10 Janpath Road directly. The party had made the decision with an eye on the forthcoming parliamentary elections, preparations for which are already underway.
The PCC has witnessed a vertical split for quite some time between union minister GN Azad camp and PCC president Prof Saifuddin Soz. Both factions have worked at crossroads and it has hit the party. The party high command, taking serious note of it, had only recently sent a stern warning to both the factions to close ranks and work in unison.
However, the party faced tough time when Congress ministers Taj Mohiuddin and Sham Lal Sharma levelled allegations against each other. Not only that, Taj also entered into confrontation with legislative council chairman Amrit Malhotra, who is also Congress MLC.
Mohan Parkash didn't put his foot down with authority on these episodes, as a result it not only affected the image of the party, but gave an advantage to the National Conference - the coalition partner - to get thing on its own way.
Soni, having the ministerial experience, is expected to guide the Congress ministers on their functioning, especially when complaints against them being confined to their constituencies were made by the party cadre in the presence of Rahul Gandhi, but is also expected to take action to stop inter-ministerial fight.
She has been entrusted the job when the party is hoping to emerge as the single largest party in the next assembly election and is also hoping to retain the two parliamentary seats. Soni has got her job cut out.
The former union minister would politely but sternly tell the leaders to drop their differences and fan out in the field and interact more with the ground level workers. She would be trying to capitalise on the ground work done by the party in the Kashmir, and would work to translate them into votes from where the party has just three seats and hopes to increase its tally there.
Ambika Soni has been made the party in-charge when the Congress has seats only in single digit, but with the BJP in the state reduced in size and the NC-PDP giving tough time to each other, her job is relatively safe but can't be considered over.