Cong plans rejig with eye on state elections

Updated on Aug 19, 2021 02:26 AM IST

Party leaders who spoke on condition of anonymity said the changes could see the elevation of some young leaders to important posts, and also find proper roles for senior leaders such as Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ramesh Chennithala or Sachin Pilot who currently don’t have any.

General secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra may have a larger role(PTI)
General secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra may have a larger role(PTI)
By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi.

The Congress party is likely to reshuffle its organisation soon, a move that has been widely anticipated after its poor performance in the latest round of assembly elections in April and May, and which has led to speculation about the likelihood of a larger role for general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and the induction of election strategist Prashant Kishor into the party.

Party leaders who spoke on condition of anonymity said the changes could see the elevation of some young leaders to important posts, and also find proper roles for senior leaders such as Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ramesh Chennithala or Sachin Pilot who currently don’t have any.

With the election for a new president unlikely to happen anytime soon, the leaders said that a reshuffle could balance equations and get the party ready for immediate challenges, including important state elections next year.

As many as seven states are scheduled to hold elections next year: Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa, Manipur and Himachal Pradesh.

One of the leaders said that the process could accelerate after Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s return to Delhi, and party president Sonia Gandhi’s meeting with Opposition leaders.

A section of the party wants Priyanka Gandhi, general secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh, to take wider responsibility and handle the affairs of the party’s frontal organisations such as NSUI and the Youth Congress. Rahul Gandhi had joined the organization as general secretary in charge of these two organizations.

The reshuffle will also address the question of Kishor. The strategist, who helped in the Trinamool Congress’ emphatic victory against the BJP in West Bengal, met Rahul Gandhi last month with what some said was a plan on the party’s revival. In return, the Congress is believed to have invited him to join the party. With several elections around the corner, Kishor, who quit as advisor to Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh recently , may be a valuable asset for the party that has been struggling to win elections since 2014. Kishor said he is not aware of any such developments.

“While a section of the party wants Kishor to join Congress now and handle assignments for the upcoming elections, another feels he should work independently with the Congress for a few months to get accustomed with our style of political management before taking the plunge,” said a senior functionary of the party.

The final decision on Kishor, and the roles for former Rajya Sabha Leader of Opposition Azad, former Kerala party unit president Ramesh Chennithala, former deputy PM of Rajasthan Pilot and others will be decided by Sonia and Rahul Gandhi.

“At least three new general secretaries are expected to be inducted in the party. It will be a mix of young leaders and veterans,” said another senior Congress leader.

On Wednesday, the party appointed Ajoy Kumar as in-charge of Sikkim, Nagaland and Tripura. Kumar’s appointment came even as the Congress alleged that the Union government has “pushed the entire North-East into chaos and there is complete breakdown of law & order and constitutional machinery in multiple states”. Its reference is to the clash between Assam and Mizoram and the violence in Meghalaya, all in recent weeks.

“Uncertainty, conflict, violent clashes and unchecked lawlessness have marred a large part of India’s North East. The situation is beyond alarming. Multiple States of North East are being pushed into an unprecedented cycle of lawlessness with complete breakdown of law and order and Constitutional machinery,” said the Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala. He alleged that Home Minister Amit Shah remained “oblivious” to the developments.

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