Congress chief Sonia Gandhi has set up a new committee that will look into future challenges that lie before the party. “It is an important committee," said an AICC functionary and the fact that newly-inducted general secretary Rahul Gandhi is part of the panel underlines its significance.
Unlike the party’s Department of Policy Planning and Coordination (Depco), which prepares research papers and provides inputs for Congress manifestos, the new group will seek to build the party’s political strategies on key issues.
“There are a number of non-economic issues we have to contend with. This group will hammer out political strategies to deal with issues as they come up,’’ said a leader. Among the examples cited were the controversies over OBC quota in education and the Ram Setu.
The 13-member panel includes a mix of stalwarts and young blood that is expected to bring a fresh perspective to issues. It includes veterans like Veerappa Moily, Digvijay Singh and Dr Parmeshwar, Union Ministers Vayalar Ravi, Prithviraj Chavan, Anand Sharma and Jairam Ramesh (who is convener of the group), MPs like Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sandeep Dikshit and Sachin Pilot and AICC functionaries and leaders like Mukul Wasnik and Salman Khurshid.
Some of these members are also involved with Depco, Moily heads this department, Ramesh is its secretary and Scindia its member. Other members of this department include Minister Kapil Sibal, noted economist Dr Arjun Sengupta and young MP Milind Deora. K.S. Rao, Radhakant Nayak, R.U.S. Prasad and Prabha Thakur are other members.
Sonia has also set up a 15-member manifesto committee with an eye on the series of assembly polls leading up to the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, unless these take place earlier. The high profile panel includes Pranab Mukherjee, Arjun Singh, Moily, P. Chidambaram, Digvijay Singh, Margaret Alva. Dr Arjun Sengupta and Kishore Chandra Deo.
Likewise, she has recast the party’s publicity and publication committee with Digvijay Singh in charge, Mukul Wasnik as convenor and Rahul Gandhi as one of its eight members besides Anand Sharma, Ramesh and Jagdish Tytler.