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Saturday, Sep 21, 2019

Congress forms key panels with eye on 2019 Lok Sabha polls

Party chief Rahul Gandhi formed the key nine-member Core Group Committee comprising AK Antony, Ghulam Nabi Azad, P Chidambaram, Ashok Gehlot, Mallikarjun Kharge, Ahmed Patel, Jairam Ramesh, Randeep Surjewala and K C Veugopal.

india Updated: Aug 25, 2018 21:39 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Rahul Gandhi also formed a committee comprising 19 top party leaders who will look after the party’s publicity during the elections.
Rahul Gandhi also formed a committee comprising 19 top party leaders who will look after the party’s publicity during the elections.(REUTERS File )

The Indian National Congress has signalled its intent for the Lok Sabha polls next year by announcing, on Saturday, three poll-related committees and a core group, the first time it is announcing a core group for a parliamentary election.

The nine-member core group named by party president Rahul gandhi comprises AK Antony, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha and general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad, treasurer Ahmed Patel, general secretary Ashok Gehlot, former finance minister P Chidambaram, Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, former union minister Jairam Ramesh, chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala and general secretary KC Venugopal.

The two other committees announced on Saturday are the ones in charge of manifesto and publicity.

Apart from Chidambaram and Ramesh, the 19-member manifesto committee has Manpreet Singh Badal, Sushmita Dev, Rajeev Gowda, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Salman Khurshid, Bindu Krishnan, Kumari Selja, Raghuveer Meena, Balchandra Mungekar, Meenakshi Natarajan, Rajni Patil, Sam Pitroda, Sachin Rao, Tamradhwaj Sahu, Mukul Sangma, Shashi Tharoor and Lalitesh Tripathi.

The publicity committee will have 13 members: Bhakta Charan Das, Praveen Chakravarty, Milind Deora, Kumar Ketkar, Pawan Khera, VD Satheesan, Anand Sharma, Jaiveer Shergill, Rajeev Shukla, Divya Spandana, Randeep Singh Surjewala, Manish Tewari and Pramod Tiwari.

While no one has been named as the head of the respective panels, Gehlot clarified that the leaders will among themselves select the coordinators for calling the meetings.

“Important committees have been formed and the other panels too will be gradually formed,” he added. The party is expected to announce an election coordination committee and another to manage alliances.

Gehlot said the core group will be the apex body overseeing and managing the party’s preparations for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

He claimed that the party has had such a core group in the past too, albeit under a different name and shape. During the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) rule, a Congress core committee existed to coordinate between the party and the government.

Apart from Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, the other members of that informal but influential group were the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Antony, Chidambaram and Patel. The then home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde was also inducted into it at a later stage.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Rahul headed the coordination committee with Patel, Janardan Dwivedi, Digvijaya Singh, Madhusudan Mistry and Jairam Ramesh as its other members.

Senior Congress leader from Bihar Kishore Kumar Jha said that by announcing the election teams seven months ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, Gandhi has tried to signal the party’s battle preparedness and primarily addressed the cadre. “By including experienced and young leaders in the election panels, Rahul Gandhi has formed balanced teams that will help the Congress regain power at the Centre in 2019. This is the new Congress under Rahul Gandhi,” he said.

Political experts are of the view that Gandhi has started taking important decisions at the appropriate time. “Rahul Gandhi is clearly in action mode and trying to defy the tag of the Congress being a status quoist party,” said N Bhaskara Rao, a Delhi-based political analyst and founder chairman of the Centre for Media Studies (CMS), a not-for-profit, research firm and think-tank.

First Published: Aug 25, 2018 16:53 IST