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Saturday, Oct 19, 2019

For Congress reshuffle, Sonia Gandhi may focus on loyalty factor

Discontentment had been brewing in the grand old party after outsiders were repeatedly given precedence over the loyalists in organisational reshuffles or electoral nominations.

india Updated: Sep 16, 2019 06:19 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Sonia Gandhi has taken a few decisions that seem to have lifted the morale of the party cadre.
Sonia Gandhi has taken a few decisions that seem to have lifted the morale of the party cadre.(PTI)
         

Loyalty is likely to be main criterion in appointments in the Congress as party chief Sonia Gandhi prepares to carry out organisational changes as part of a restructuring plan, party leaders familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity.

Discontentment had been brewing in the grand old party after outsiders were repeatedly given precedence over the loyalists in organisational reshuffles or electoral nominations.

After assuming the reins of the party as its interim president on August 10 following Rahul Gandhi’s refusal to take back his resignation in the wake of the 2019 Lok Sabha poll debacle, Sonia Gandhi has taken a few decisions that seem to have lifted the morale of the party cadre.

Watch: Democracy in peril, says Sonia in Congress meet sans Rahul Gandhi

 

Prolonged infighting in the Haryana Congress was addressed with the replacement of Ashok Tanwar by Kumari Selja as the state unit chief. Former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda had threatened to quit the Congress and form his own party if Tanwar was not replaced. In a fine balancing act, Hooda was named the new legislature party leader ahead of the assembly elections due this year.

Similarly in Mumbai, factionalism had cost the party dear in the recent years. Milind Deora, who had resigned as the Mumbai Congress chief after the national elections, was replaced by party veteran Eknath Gaikwad. On Saturday, Deora, considered close to Rahul Gandhi, was also removed as the vice-chairman of the All India Professional Congress. He is likely to be given an important organizational role at the national level in the next party reshuffle.

In Punjab, the resignation of state unit chief Sunil Jakhar, who had offered to step down after his defeat in the Lok Sabha elections, has been rejected. Actor-turned-politician and Bharatiya Janata Party’s Sunny Deol defeated him from Gurdaspur.

Jakhar shares a good rapport with chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh and the party did not want to change that equation.

The squabbling in Jharkhand was also resolved with the appointment of tribal leader Rameshwar Oraon as the state chief.

The Congress president is set to appoint new party chiefs in Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and a few other states. Many general secretaries and those in charge of states are likely to be changed or shifted.

Sonia Gandhi has started seeking inputs from state units on party leaders, including former Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha members from 2004 onwards, in her bid to reward loyalty.

Congress general secretary in-charge of organisation KC Venugopal had last week asked all state unit chiefs to give details of party MPs.

“Congress president desires to see the profiles of the party MPs elected to the Lok Sabha in 2004, 2009 and 2014 and the Rajya Sabha since 2004 and are continuing in the party till now,” read the letter.

Grappling with a financial crisis in the party primarily blamed on corporate houses moving away from the Congress, Sonia Gandhi also has to address the issue that has impacted the party’s performance in almost every election since 2014.

“Giving key organisational responsibilities to resourceful persons who at the same time are Congress loyalists is part of the strategy to address the funds crunch,” a party functionary said.

First Published: Sep 14, 2019 23:51 IST

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