Along with revamping the AICC, Sonia Gandhi has started restructuring the organisation at the state level to meet challenges from regional forces and caste-based parties.
On Monday, the Congress president began the exercise by appointing four new Pradesh Congress Committee chiefs — Rita Bahuguna Joshi (Uttar Pradesh), Rajinder Kaur Bhattal (Punjab), C.P. Joshi (Rajasthan) and Yashpal Arya (Uttarakhand). At the heart of it is an effort to strike a social combination to woo different sections of society.
With the Congress’s upper caste-SC-Muslim support base hijacked by the BJP, BSP and the SP in UP, the party has in the last few years sought to woo them back by handpicking PCC chiefs from different castes — Sri Prakash Jaiswal (Bania), Jagdambika Pal and Arun Kumar Singh Munna (Rajput) and Salman Khurshid (Muslim). This time, Sonia has tried out a Brahmin face by choosing Joshi, daughter of the late Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna. Helping Joshi in this task is state in-charge Digvijay Singh, a Rajput.
In Rajasthan, Sonia is testing a Brahmin-Dalit combination with working president Parasram Mordia, an SC, supporting C.P. Joshi. Joshi is said to be a good orator and Mordia a good organizer. The CLP leader is likely to be a Jat. In Punjab, a Jat-Dalit combination is on offer with Bhattal as PCC chief and Mohinder Singh Kaypee as working president. With Bhattal’s appointment, the state is likely to get a new CLP leader.
There are several more states that require Sonia’s attention. West Bengal has had a working president since Pranab Mukherjee quit as PCC chief more than a year back but needs a full-fledged president.
Sonia has made a start by appointing veteran leader Mohsina Kidwai as AICC general secretary in-charge of the state. In Chhattisgarh, she brought V.C. Shukla, Arvind Netam, Dilip Singh Bhuria and Mohammad Baloch back into the party fold. A signal has been sent to Bihar with Minister of State Dr Shakeel Ahmed inducted as one of six party spokespersons.