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Congress revamp with eye on UP

SONIA GANDHI'S worries over the state of her party in Uttar Pradesh came out clearly in the organisational changes announced on Friday. While UPCC chief Salman Khurshid has been dropped from the Congress Working Committee (CWC), Satyavrat Chaturvedi has been removed from the charge of Uttar Pradesh.

india Updated: Jan 07, 2006 01:26 IST

Gehlot in charge of state, Rahul still out

SONIA GANDHI'S worries over the state of her party in Uttar Pradesh came out clearly in the organisational changes announced on Friday. While UPCC chief Salman Khurshid has been dropped from the Congress Working Committee (CWC), Satyavrat Chaturvedi has been removed from the charge of Uttar Pradesh.

Against the backdrop of a running battle between these two key functionaries, the Congress president's signal to partymen in UP is clear: instead of fighting among yourselves, fight the political odds.

From being AICC general secretary and a regular CWC member, Chaturvedi is now just one of the 14 'permanent invitees' to the committee. From now, he will look after AICC departments, cells and training.

Rahul Gandhi's much-awaited induction in the party organisation hasn't come about. But the reshuffle has left five vacancies in the 25-member CWC.

Congress sources also hinted at some changes in the list of 32 AICC secretaries after the party's Hyderabad plenary (January 21-23). The changes may also be influenced by the impending cabinet reshuffle.

While making an example of those who could not measure up to the party's requirements, Sonia has brought in four new regular CWC members: Saifuddin Soz (J&K), B.K. Hariprasad (Karnataka), V. Narayanswamy (Pondicherry) and Urmila Singh (Madhya Pradesh). The purpose obviously is to convey that hard work pays.

Soz has, in fact, become a full-fledged CWC member in place of Ghulam Nabi Azad and M.L. Fotedar, now a permanent invitee to the committee, who continues to be important by virtue of his membership of the Central Election Committee (that hasn't been touched). On the UP front, Noor Bano, who lost to Samajwadi Party's Jaya Prada in 2004, has entered the CWC as a permanent invitee.

Chaturvedi has been replaced by the level-headed Ashok Gehlot as general secretary in charge of UP and the elevation of Hariprasad and Narayanswamy as AICC general secretaries.

There is no CWC member from two election-going states—Tamil Nadu and Assam. But Narayanswamy's nomination should also serve the party's purpose in the AIADMK-ruled state.

The task of overseeing party affairs in election-bound states has been assigned to old warhorses.

While incumbent AICC general secretaries Digvijay Singh and Margaret Alva will look after Assam and West Bengal, Hariprasad will lead the Congress's electoral bid in Pondicherry. Karnataka's Veerappa Moily, a permanent invitee to the CWC, keeps the charge of Kerala and TN.

The AICC now has eight general secretaries, including Ambika Soni, Janardan Dwivedi and Mukul Wasnik. The treasurer's office remains with Motilal Vora; Ahmed Patel continues as the Congress president's political secretary. Dr Karan Singh is the other J&K leader on whom Sonia has placed reliance.

As a permanent invitee, he will head the AICC's foreign affairs department which was earlier under K. Natwar Singh, who lost his CWC slot in the wake of the Volcker controversy. An obvious gap is the absence of any known young MPs, barring Hariprasad and Jyotiraditya Scindia, who continue as a permanent invitees to the CWC.

First Published: Jan 07, 2006 01:26 IST