Congress president Sonia Gandhi Tuesday changed state party presidents in Punjab and Karnataka but retained present incumbents in the states of West Bengal, Assam and Kerala - all where assembly polls are due next year - and Uttar Pradesh.
Beginning the process of finalising state chiefs as part of organisational election mechanism, Gandhi named party presidents in 18 states and union territories.
Former chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh was named the new party chief in Punjab and G.Parmeshwar in Karnataka.
Party sources said that Capt Amarinder Singh's appointment has been made with an eye to the assembly polls in Punjab in early 2012.
They said Capt Singh, a strong critic of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, is expected to galvanise the party and build momentum in its favour. The former chief minister was picked up over several claimants, including former MP Jagmeet Singh Brar and Gurdaspur MP Partap Singh Bajwa.
The sources said the party was looking for a change of the Pradesh Congress chief in Karnataka where its performance in by-elections has not been impressive.
While Capt Amarinder Singh replaces party MP Mohinder Singh Kaypee, Parmeshwar replaces R.V. Deshpande.
Gandhi has decided to retain Manas Ranjan Bhunia in West Bengal, Bhubaneshwar Kalita in Assam and Ramesh Chennithala in Kerala. Bhunia was appointed to the post earlier this year. A. V. Subramaniam has been retained as state unit chief in Puducherry, which too will face assembly polls next year.
In Uttar Pradesh, Gandhi decided to retain Rita Bahuguna Joshi though a section of party leadership was seeking a change.
Uttar Pradesh will go for assembly polls in 2012 and the Congress is attempting to make major gains in the populous state which sends 80 MPs to the Lok Sabha.
Kaul Singh Thakur will continue as party chief in Himachal Pradesh, Jaiprakash Agarwal in Delhi and Yashpal Arya in Uttarakhand. Party sources said more appointments were expected in the next few days.
They said the party was deliberating changes in Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu.
Gujarat PCC chief Siddhartha Patel has already put in his papers following the party's dismal performance in the panchayat polls, while in Rajasthan Rural Development Minister C.P. Joshi is also concurrently the state party chief.
The sources said that the process of appointments of state party chiefs is expected to be completed before the All India Congress Committee session is held in New Delhi Nov 2.
Gandhi was authorised by most of the state units to choose their chiefs. The Congress president Tuesday also approved the result of elections to the Pradesh Congress Committees held in Chandigarh, north-eastern states, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep.
B.B.Bahl will continue in Chandigarh, Nabam Tuki in Arunachal Pradesh, Gaikhangam in Manipur, Friday Lyngdoh in Meghalaya, L. Lalthanwala in Mizoram, Kuldeep Sharma in Andaman and Nicobar Island, Ponnikkkam Shaikhoya in Lakshadweep.
S.I. Jamir will be the new state unit president in Nagaland.