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Oomen Chandy replaces Digvijaya Singh as AICC in-charge of Andhra Pradesh

Apart from change in Andhra Congress, Gaurav Gogoi was also appointed as the party’s in-charge of West Bengal and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

india Updated: May 27, 2018 21:34 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Oomen Chandy,Digvijaya Singh,Andhra Congress
Congress leader Digvijaya Singh in New Delhi.(HT FIle Photo)

The Congress on Sunday replaced senior leader Digvijaya Singh as general secretary of the party with former Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy, a party press release said.

Chandy, 74, will take over from the 71-year-old Singh as the party’s Andhra Pradesh in-charge, the release added.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi also relieved general
secretary CP Joshi of the charge of West Bengal and appointed Kaliabor Lok Sabha MP Gaurav Gogoi in his place. Son of
former Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi, the 35-year-old will also handle the party’s affairs in Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

Joshi, 67, still holds the charge of eight states -- Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Sikkim, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur. He has been in the eye of the storm over the Congress’s recent electoral defeats in the north-east.

Before embarking on a “spiritual, personal and apolitical” 3,300-km Narmada yatra also known as Narmada Parikrama (circumambulation) and covering parts of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, Singh had in August last year requested the party leadership to relieve him of all organisational responsibilities.

He had been relieved of his charge of Telangana, Karnataka and Goa last year.

Once an influential leader in the Congress, the former Madhya Pradesh chief minister had come under fire for his “mishandling” of the post-poll developments in Goa, where the Congress failed to form the government despite emerging as the single-largest party and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) succeeded in cobbling together a coalition.

He was appointed on May 22 as the head of the party’s election coordination committee in Madhya Pradesh, which goes to the polls this year.

The latest organisational changes once again illustrate that Gandhi would continue to rely on a mix of young and experienced leaders as he restructures the party.

According to a Congress functionary familiar with the developments, the changes are also part of a new strategy aimed at adapting to the changing times. It lays down a strict condition that no Congress functionary will be allowed to hold charge over multiple states, even if the person concerned is a general secretary. Moreover, the leaders in charge will be issued a strict directive to focus exclusively on their territories and take steps to strengthen the party’s presence there.

With this basic change in its organisational restructuring process, the functionary said the Congress has shunned its decades-old practice of indiscriminately handing charge of multiple states to general secretaries or any other leader of a similar stature. It was devised in view of feedback received by Gandhi that entrusting a single leader with responsibilities in multiple states leaves him/her little time to do justice to any of them.

Another organisational strategy unveiled by the Congress constitutes preparing a team for the future by appointing young leaders as secretaries who can assist senior members in managing party affairs in various states. This way, the old guard will not feel ignored either.

Political observers said while Gandhi is keen on having new faces along with seniors to strengthen the party, he needs to restructure the state units as well.

“It is good to have a team of new faces with old war horses. But they have tough challenges ahead. The Congress also needs to set its house in order in states and promote new leaders,” Delhi-based political analyst N Bhaskara Rao said.

First Published: May 27, 2018 13:46 IST