After six months of his appointment, Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee president Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu announced his team of office-bearers.
The 31-member team comprises seven vice-presidents and nine general secretaries, besides a treasurer and a 14-member executive committee.
Sukhu has brought in new blood and tried to accommodate all factions of the party with due consideration to region and communities. Nine of the 17 office-bearers, vice-president and general secretaries are new faces.
Sukhu has also tried to strike balance between different factions of the party.While former Lok Sabha member Chander Kumar, former speaker Gangu Ram Musafir, Cooperative Bank chairman Harsh Mahajan and former chief secretary AN Vidyarthi are staunch loyalists of chief minister Virbhadra Singh, former legislator Dr Kailsah Prashar and Nikhi Rajour are the new faces. Geeta Negi is the lone woman to be appointed as vice-president.
As the party is bracing up for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Sukhu has given preference to the youth while appointing new general secretaries.
Barring Harbhajan Singh Bhajji and Ram Lal Thakur, the other seven general secretaries are young.Former Congress legislator Harshwardhan Chauhan is general secretary in the Pradesh Congress Committee. Another young legislator from Lahaul and Spiti Ravi Thakur too has been appointed general secretary. Vinod Sultanpuri, a young Congress leader from Kasauli, has also been appointed as the general secretary. Susheela Negi, wife of late Kinnaur legislator Dev Raj Negi, is the lone woman general secretary.
Sukhu's trusted man from Hamirpur Sunil Sharma also figures in the list of general secretaries along with another young leader from Kullu Sunder Thakur.Sunil Sharma is currently heading the district unit of Hamirpur. Young councillor Surender Chauhan from the Chotta Shimla ward is the party's new treasurer.
“The new team of office-bearers were announced after due consultation with senior party leaders. It's a blend of experience and youth,” Sukhu told the Hindustan Times over telephone from New Delhi.
“The new Congress team will live up to the expectations of AICC president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi,” he said.Interestingly, 11 out of 14 executive members are new faces. Most of them are young leaders. The executive includes Kuldeep Rathore, urban development minister Sudhir Sharma, chief parliamentary secretaries Rohit Thakur and Rajesh Dharmani, Ajay Bhadur, Sanjay Avasthi, Satpal Singh Raizada, Mahender Chauhan, Nasima Begum, Namita Roshan Lal, Mahesh Raj, Madan Chaudhary, Urmila Sharma and Tara Thakur.
Senior party leaders, including chief minister Virbhadra Singh, union trade minister Anand Sharma, IPH minister Vidya Stokes, health minister Kaul Singh Thakur, transport minister GS Bali, rural development minister Anil Sharma, industry minister Mukesh Agnihotri, social justice minister Dhani Ram Shandil, agriculture minister Sujan Singh Pathania, forest minister Thakur Singh Bharmouri, chief parliamentary secretary Rakesh Kalia and Sohan Lal Thakur have been made permanent invitees to the committee.