After 18 years, Congress war room gets a new address | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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After 18 years, Congress war room gets a new address

Mar 02, 2024 10:50 AM IST

On January 4, a detailed road map on how to set up war rooms in states was discussed in a meeting chaired by Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge

From a leafy corner in the Central Delhi, the Congress party’s war room, or its operational centre for election preparations, has shifted to the heart of Lutyens’ Delhi, a bungalow next to Khan Market.

File Photo
File Photo

This is the first change of address of the war room in 18 years. In the run-up to the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress leaders operated from 99 South Avenue. Sometime in 2006, the 15 Gurdwara Rakabganj Road (GRG) bungalow became the party’s war room.

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Bungalow number 15 was allotted to the party’s Rajya Sabha MP Pradip Bhattacharyya, who retired in August last year, forcing the Congress to search for a new address for its war room. Its search seems to have ended in a two-storied bungalow at C 1/10, Subramania Bharti Marg. The bungalow belongs to Uttam Kumar Reddy, who is a minister in Telangana. Reddy was allotted the bungalow when he was a Rajya Sabha member.

Usually, former members get a grace period to vacate their official residence; it is quite likely that the war room will shift after the elections as this bungalow will be reallocated to a new Rajya Sabha member.

A former Karnataka cadre IAS officer-turned-Congress worker Sasikanth Senthil, who quit civil services in 2019, leads the war room. “I really cannot say why we changed the address. That is a decision taken by the top leadership of the party. My job is operations. I can’t say anything beyond this,” Senthil said, declining to comment on the activities of the war room.

Apart from Senthil, who headed the party’s war room in Karnataka during the state polls last year, engineer-turned-Congress joint secretary Gokul Butail, Delhi unit member Naveen Sharma, party worker Varun Santosh and Captain (retd) Arvind Kumar and Vaibhav Walia are part of the war room, HT learns.

Two senior party leaders who asked not to be named added that Congress strategists meet regularly in the war room which also hosts the party’s social media team and a few other groups. In the old war room, top-ranking leaders such as the late Ahmed Patel had dedicated offices.

The Congress also plans to set up state-level war rooms for the elections. On January 4, a detailed road map on how to set up war rooms in states was discussed in a meeting chaired by Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge.

In the Subramania Bharti Marg war room, as it was at 15, GRG, access is highly restricted. The old war room had two conference rooms, a few cabins, a canteen, and a separate bay for the Congress social media unit. Access was based on biometric credentials. The new war room has almost all the same facilities, according to a party functionary, but it is not as organised as 15, GRG.

A war room veteran, who requested anonymity, said, “From 99 South Avenue to Khan Market, we have come a long way. In the South Avenue property, the toilets were so bad that some of us used to go to Ashoka Hotel to use the toilets. When we got the 15, GRG, the first thing we did was to renovate the washrooms.”

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