In a calculated move, the Congress on Saturday appointed a senior Muslim leader from Narendra Modi’s Gujarat as its minority cell chairman. Khurshid Ahmed Saiyed, who has been described as “an advocate”, will replace Imran Ur Rahman Kidwai, who held the post for more than eight years.
Saiyed is a former councilor of the Ahmedabad municipality and had been a general secretary of the party’s Gujarat unit. Kidwai, slated to be given some other assignment in the organisation, hails from Uttar Pradesh.
A senior Congress leader pointed out that Saiyed’s appointment is aimed to send a political message to the minorities in the backdrop of BJP elevating the Gujarat chief minister as its prime minister candidate for 2014 polls. “He had taken a lead role during the past two elections in campaigning against Modi,” a leader added.
Sources added that Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, deputy chief of party’s Panchayat Raj cell Harshwardhan Sapkal and a few more leaders were directly involved in picking Saiyed for the post. In the state politics, Saiyed is considered close to Siddharth Patel, the former Gujarat Congress chief.