After CWC, key Congress poll panel set for rejig
Chances of the CEC being reconstituted before the Bihar elections are bright, given that the panel will select the party candidates for the assembly pollsUpdated: Sep 29, 2020, 09:09 IST
Congress president Sonia Gandhi is expected to revamp a panel that finalises party candidates for assembly and Lok Sabha elections, days after carrying out a major organisational reshuffle that saw the exit of many veteran general secretaries, people familiar with the development said.
The central election committee (CEC), an important panel that selects party candidates for an election after being shortlisted at various levels, is currently headed by Sonia Gandhi.
Its members are former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, senior leaders AK Antony, Ahmed Patel, Ambika Soni, Mukul Wasnik, KC Venugopal, Mohsina Kidwai, Girija Vyas, Janaradan Dwivedi, M Veerappa Moily and Oscar Fernandes.
A Congress leader aware of the proposed changes said the revamp will see the exit of some members and the induction of former Union minister Jitendra Singh, former party general secretary Mohan Prakash and ex-deputy chief minister of Karnataka G Parameshwara in the panel.
Singh and Prakash are both considered close to Rahul Gandhi.
He further said Fernandes and Vyas have been unwell for some time and their exit appeared certain.
The leader added that the chances of the CEC being reconstituted before the Bihar elections are bright, given that the panel will select the party candidates for the assembly polls.
Sonia Gandhi had, on September 11, reconstituted the Congress Working Committee (CWC) and her team of office bearers, and formed a special panel to help her in day-to-day functioning.
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She also set up a new central election authority (CEA) that will conduct the organisational polls to elect a new party president and the CWC, the party’s highest decision-making body.
The changes came days after 23 leaders, including Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Mukul Wasnik, Kapil Sibal, Manish Tewari, Shashi Tharoor, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Prithviraj Chavan and Jitin Prasada, wrote to her seeking a complete overhaul of the organisation and internal elections from top to bottom. The Congress president had accommodated some of the dissenters to send a message that there won’t be any reprisal or consequences for writing the letter that she had described as “hurtful”.
The changes were also in line with a resolution passed in the August 24 CWC meeting that had requested Sonia Gandhi to continue as the interim Congress president till a new full-time chief is elected and also authorised her to carry out the necessary organisational changes to deal with the challenges faced by the party.
Among the general secretaries dropped were Ghulam Nabi Azad (Haryana), also one of the key dissenters, Motillal Vora (Administration), Ambika Soni (Jammu and Kashmir), Mallikarjun Kharge (Maharashtra) and Luizinho Falerio (Mizoram, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura and Meghalaya).
In-charges Asha Kumari (Punjab and Chandigarh), Gaurav Gogoi (West Bengal, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Sikkim and Manipur), Ram Chandra Khuntia (Telangana) and Anugrah Narayan Singh (Uttarakhand) were also axed.
The new general secretaries included Tariq Anwar (Kerala and Lakshadweep), Randeep Singh Surjewala (Karnataka) and Jitendra Singh (Assam).
The new in-charges are Pawan Kumar Bansal (Administration), Rajeev Shukla (Himachal Pradesh), Dinesh Gundu Rao (Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Goa), Manickam Tagore (Telangana), HK Patil (Maharashtra), Devendra Yadav (Uttarakhand), Vivek Bansal (Haryana), Manish Chatrath (Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya), Bhakta Charan Das (Mizoram and Manipur), Kuljit Singh Nagra (Sikkim, Nagaland and Tripura) and Jitin Prasada (West Bengal, Andaman and Nicobar Islands).
Sonia Gandhi had asked for a special committee to help her in organisational and operational matters till the next session of the All India Congress Committee (AICC), to be held within six months.
The committee comprises AK Antony, Ahmed Patel, Ambika Soni, KC Venugopal, Mukul Wasnik and Randeep Singh Surjewala.
The five-member CEA will be headed by Madhusudan Mistry and the members are Rajesh Mishra, Krishna Byre Gowda, S Jothimani and Arvinder Singh Lovely, another letter writer.
After restructuring the party at the national level, Sonia Gandhi will now shift her focus to states, especially those going to polls in next two years. While several state unit chiefs have overstayed their tenure, many are on the radar for their non-performance.
Sonia Gandhi had earlier named Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury as the party chief in West Bengal, which will be going to polls in April-May next year.
Along with West Bengal, assembly elections will be held in Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry. In 2022, state elections are due in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa, Manipur, Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.
Apart from various committees, departments and cells at the All India Congress Committee (AICC) level, the mega team of 56 secretaries will also see a major restructuring.