Cong panels to look into poll results, Covid relief
Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday formed two committees to look into the poor showing of the party in the recent assembly elections, and to coordinate Covid-19 relief activities, a move that underlined efforts to woo key members of the so-called “G23 group” of letter writers who demanded sweeping changes in the organisation last year.
The panel to “evaluate the results of recently concluded assembly elections” includes Ashok Chavan, Salman Khurshid, Manish Tewari, Vincent Pala and Jothi Mani. The group, chaired by Chavan, has been asked to submit its report within two weeks. The Congress was decimated in West Bengal, failed to capture power in Kerala and Assam, lost power in Puducherry before the elections and failed to regain it, and is a junior partner in the ruling coalition in Tamil Nadu.
The other panel is headed by former Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, one of the most prominent faces of the group that wrote the letter The 13-member body also includes Ambika Soni, Mukul Wasnik, Pawan Bansal, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, KC Venugopal, Jairam Ramesh, Randeep Surjewala, Manish Chatrath, Ajoy Kumar, Pawan Khera, Gurdeep Singh Sappal and Indian Youth Congress president BV Srinivas, who has been playing a crucial role in the Covid-19 relief operations.
While the two committees have tasks cut out for them, party leaders were quick to point out the significance of the presence of Azad and Tewari in the panels. A senior leader said that this was the first time after Azad retired from the Rajya Sabha as the Leader of Opposition that the party formally appointed him for an assignment. The leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added that in a Congress Working Committee meeting on April 17, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had suggested that Azad be involved in matters related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Party insiders feel Tewari has also been included in the panel to analyse poll results for his organisational experience in Youth Congress as well as his understanding of parliamentary politics.
Tewari, who campaigned for the party in the recently concluded assembly polls, has also found a position for another key assignment. The presence of Azad, Tewari and Mukul Wasnik also underlines the Congress’s efforts to bring back as many members of the “G23” as possible into key affairs. Some prominent collaborators of that letter have, however, remained out of favour.
While the plan to set up a panel to oversee relief operations was discussed last week, Sonia Gandhi announced in the CWC meet on Monday that a committee would be formed to analyse the election results.