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Major AICC reshuffle clips Soni's wings
Rajeev Iyer in New Delhi |
May 02, 2003 22:15 IST
The high-profile Ambika Soni had her wings clipped in a major All India Congress Committee reshuffle on Friday carried out by party president Sonia Gandhi.
Soni has been shunted out as the political secretary to Sonia and stripped off the charge of party affairs in Kerala and Chhattisgarh. But she has been retained as incharge of the Congress president's office and left with the responsibility of managing party affairs in Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan go to polls in November. Daljit Singh, however, will be assisting Soni in Congress president's office.
The person who has gained most by Soni's cut down is Ahmed Patel, who has not only been retained as political secretary to Sonia, but also given the important charge of party affairs in Delhi and Kerala. Delhi too goes to polls in November. Dr Anil Shastri will assist Patel in managing the Kerala party affairs. With the new responsibilities, Patel becomes the de facto number two in the party.
Former Maharashtra chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh has been made a Congress Working Committee member and given the charge of Chhattisgarh, the fourth state to go to polls in November. He has also been put in charge of Gujarat
The revamp also saw the revival of the long-defunct Political Affairs Committee, which will have 13 members and will be headed by Sonia Gandhi. She has appointed Dr Manmohan Singh as her deputy. Though no provision exists for a PAC in the party constitution it has been conceived as the highest decision-making body in the party, overriding the constitutionally formed CWC.
Party sources told rediff.com that Soni was removed as the Kerala incharge after Congress legislators cross-voted in the recent Rajya Sabha election. In fact earlier in the day Soni had announced that Sonia had pardoned the 'erring' MLAs and no action will be taken against them. She had also asked K Muralidharan to continue as the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president.
In other changes Naval Kishore Sharma returns to the AICC as general secretary with the charge of the states of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. Three secretaries -- Subodh Kant Sahay, Jai Kishan and Parvez -- will help Sharma. Sharma has also been made a member of the CWC. R K Dhawan has been brought back as general secretary incharge of Bihar and Jharkhand.
Ghulam Nabi Azad, while continuing to be the PCC president of Jammu and Kashmir, has the added responsibility of being incharge of party affairs in Andhra Pradesh, Uttaranchal and Himachal Pradesh. Motilal Vora has been divested of all responsibilities except as the party treasurer.
Kamal Nath continues to be a general secretary incharge of West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Orissa and Pondichery and assisting him as secretaries will be former MP Satyajeetsinh Gaekwad of Vadodara and Chandra Bageli.
Vyalar Ravi continues to be a general secretary with the charge of Maharashtra and Karnataka. Oscar Fernandes is another general secretary who continues to be incharge, as usual, for all AICC meetings, CEC, CWC and organisational matters, besides also looking after Nagaland, Manipur, with Dalbir Singh as secretary attached to him. Mohsina Kidwai continues to be the general secretary incharge of Punjab, Assam and Chandigarh and assisting her will be Krishna Teerath and K K Sahay. Mukul Wasnik is general secretary incharge of all frontal organisations.
AICC secretary Ramesh Chennithala, MP, continues to be incharge of Goa, Daman and Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Andaman and Lakshadweep. Salman Khursheed has been given independent charge of Mizoam, Tripura and Sikkim and his secretary is Hanumanth Rao. Meira Kumar -- daughter of late Jagjivan Ram -- and AICC secretary Janardhan Dwivedi -- the Hindi speechwriter of Sonia Gandhi -- have been nominated to the CWC besides Vilasrao Deshmukh.
Chairmen and members of various other AICC committees were also announced. Dr Manmohan Singh continues to be the chairman of the Economic Affairs Committee and Natwar Singh chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee while Congress MP Mani Shankar Aiyar heads the new political training department. Ambika Sonia continues to be the chairman of the media committee with Jaipal Reddy as the chief spokesman. Former Union minister P K Jaffer Sharief heads the minority cell, Imanat Biswas the Scheduled Tribe cell, G Venkataswamy the Scheduled Caste cell and P Shiv Shankar the Other Backward Castes cell.