Ignoring stiff opposition to his appointment, the Congress on Monday named young Dalit leader and Lok Sabha MP from Sirsa, Ashok Tanwar, as the new party chief in Haryana.
The party also appointed Union minister Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury as the new West Bengal Congress president while VM Sudheeran will head the party's Kerala unit.
Though Congress president Sonia Gandhi cleared the names, the appointments bore a clear stamp of party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who has repeatedly maintained that he would bring about structural changes in the organisation and hand over its responsibilities to younger people. The development comes close on the heels of appointment of young leaders, Sachin Pilot and Arun Yadav, as party chiefs in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh respectively.
Congress sources said 37-year-old Tanwar’s appointment had been cleared almost two months ago – HT was the first to report about it on December 19 last year – but the leadership was forced to keep the move in abeyance after a few state leaders expressed reservations over it.
“With the appointment, Rahul Gandhi has sent a strong signal that he will not tolerate any pressure and will do what is beneficial to the party in the long term,” a Congress leader said.
Tanwar, an AICC secretary and a former president of the Youth Congress, replaces another Dalit leader Phool Chand Mullana.
In another move, the party brought in 58-year-old Chowdhury, a known detractor of West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool leader Mamata Banerjee, in place of Pradip Bhattacharya. His appointment has sealed all the possibilities of any renewal of ties between the Congress and the Trinamool Congress.
In Kerala, the party opted for Sudheeran, 65, considered one of the cleanest politicians of the state and owing allegiance to no camp.
The changes have been made keeping in mind this summer’s parliamentary elections which opinion polls have predicted “tough” for the Congress.