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Congress dumps decades-old strategy, no multiple state charge for one leader

The Congress has shunned the decades-old practice of giving a leader the job of handling multiple states following feedback received by party vice president Rahul Gandhi that an office bearer is unable to concentrate on one state in view of manifold responsibilities.

india Updated: Jul 13, 2017 17:08 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Congress,Rahul Gandhi,Congress General Secretary
Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi at a meeting in New Delhi.(PTI)

A general secretary or any functionary in the Congress will no longer hold the charge of multiple states, according to a new strategy adopted by the grand old party to adapt to the changing times.

Instead, the functionary will be given the responsibility of just one state with a strict directive to focus on reviving and strengthening the party in that area.

Making some basic changes in its organisational restructuring process, the party has shunned the decades-old practice of giving a general secretary or any other leader the job of handling multiple states.

The new plan has been devised following the feedback received by Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi that a general secretary or any other office bearer is unable to concentrate on one state in view of manifold responsibilities.

As a result, the Congress has been losing elections in state after state and its rank and cadre getting shrunk due to the exodus to other political parties.

Before its worst-ever electoral drubbing in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls in which it managed to get 44 seats, the Congress was in power in 13 states and now holds just 6. In the 2014 general elections, the grand old party failed to open an account in 13 states. The annihilation instateshas further shrunk its space and theCongresscould no longer claim to be a dominant political force in the country.

The other changes in the restricting includes preparing a team for the future by appointing young leaders as secretaries and handing over them the responsibility of assisting the seniors in managing the party affairs in states. At the same time, the old guards will continue to play an important role.

While a big state will have 4-5 secretaries to assist a general secretary or an in-charge, at least two young leaders will manage a small state.

The changes are reflected in the phased-organisational revamp being undertaken in the party over the past few months. The appointment of Lok Sabha MP from Kerala KC Venugopal and former Rajya Sabha MP Avinash Pande as general secretaries besides the elevation of Asha Kumari, A Chella Kumar, PL Punia and RPN Singh as in-charge is a step in that direction.

As a balancing act between the old guard and the GenNext, veteran leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Kamal Nath and Ashok Gehlot were brought back as general secretaries. Also, more than 20 young leaders have been appointed secretaries.

In another change, Congress president Sonia Gandhi constituted a communication strategy group to spruce up the party’s media department. Senior leaders Mallikarjun Kharge, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, P Chidambaram, Mani Shankar Aiyar, Jairam Ramesh and Jyotiraditya Scindia apart from Sushmita Deb will be its members.

Congress’ chief spokesperson and head of the communications department Randeep Singh Surjewala and Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Gowda have been named as ex-officio members.

Failure to communicate the policies, programmes and achievements of the Congress during the 10 years of the UPA government was widely blamed for the party’s worst-ever electoral performance in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls in which it managed to get just 44 seats.

More organisational changes are expected in the coming weeks ahead of the party’s internal polls that have to be concluded by December 31 this year as per the Election Commission deadline. The election to the Congress president’s post is expected to be held between September 16 and October 15.

First Published: Jul 13, 2017 14:05 IST