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Sunday, Aug 18, 2019

WReviving units in poll-bound states Sonia’s priority: Leader

india Updated: Aug 13, 2019 00:07 IST
Amrita Madhukalya
Amrita Madhukalya

New Delhi

As Sonia Gandhi takes charge as the interim president of the Congress, the revival of the party organisation in four poll-bound states is likely to be her top priority, a senior leader said.

While Delhi is scheduled to elect a new assembly next year, there is speculation that the national capital will go to the polls along with Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand later this year.

Matters including state-wise screening, election and publicity committees, and candidate lists will be deliberated upon in the next few days, said KC Venugopal, Congress general secretary (organisation). “Certainly, Sonia ji will take organisational changes keeping in mind the upcoming state elections,” he added.

Gandhi, 72, was chosen to lead the Congress at a time when the grand old party is looking for direction in the aftermath of a devastating electoral defeat that prompted her son and successor Rahul Gandhi to resign.

The Congress won just 52 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha in the April-May national elections while the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance stormed back to power with 352 seats.

Among her immediate jobs would be to oversee the constitution of state committees. Barring Maharashtra, the committees for the other three states need to be announced. Vacancies, including the state president and Congress Legislature Party leader in some states, remain to be filled now.

A leader from one of the poll-bound states said on the condition of anonymity that party workers are now looking up to Sonia Gandhi to stitch a narrative ahead of the electoral battle.

Apart from organisational changes in these states, she will have to take along the state functionaries who seem to be disillusioned in the wake of the leadership crisis in the party.

Recently, Jharkhand state president Dr Ajoy Kumar resigned from his post over his purported differences with some of his party colleagues in the state unit. Whispers of differences among Haryana leaders have started emerging as well.

A senior lawmaker of the party said that organisational changes in the present set-up of the All India Congress Committee can be expected. “She [Sonia Gandhi] might make [some] changes in due course of time, and had Rahul Gandhi continued, he would have done the same, too,” said the leader.

As she commands “enormous respect” among Opposition leaders, her leadership can lead to a better and unified strategy, said another leader, who had worked alongside her during the UPA years.

“Her core strength is her connect with Opposition party leaders, and she can bridge gaps across parties,” the party leader added.

Rajya Sabha member PL Punia said that her experience of leading the party and her chairmanship of the UPA during the two terms of the Dr Manmohan Singh government have led her to understand political and governance nuances better than most in the party. “She lets strategies take a prime role, and had spearheaded landmark legislations such as the Right To Information, Right to Employment, Right To Education, Right To Food etc,” said Punia.

A number of senior leaders have quit the party in the past few days. The party’s chief whip in the Rajya Sabha, Assam MP Bhubaneswar Kalita, a long-time party loyalist, recently crossed over to the rival BJP camp. Amethi leader Sanjay Singh, Assam Rajya Sabha MP Santiuse Kujur and former Assam minister and Barak Valley veteran Gautam Ray have quit the party, too, and joined the BJP.

First Published: Aug 13, 2019 00:07 IST

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