Constituting Rahul Gandhi's team for the 2014 Lok Sabha battle, Congress on Sunday brought in former Union Ministers Ajay Maken and C P Joshi along with Ambika Soni and Gurudas Kamat as general secretaries and dropped Ghulam Nabi Azad and Oscar Fernandes.
Making large-scale changes in the organisation, Congress President Sonia Gandhi retained Ahmed Patel as her political secretary but significantly made Ambika Soni as general secretary in-charge of the Congress president's office. Soni was the political secretary before Patel replaced
her nearly a decade ago. Soni had also held the charge of CPO earlier.
Madhusudan Mistri, who hails from Gujarat and is considered close to Rahul, got the charge of key Uttar Pradesh with Digvijaya Singh being given the responsibility of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Goa.
Other general secretaries who were dropped included Vilas Muttamwar and Birender Singh. Among the in-charges of various states who failed to get re-nomination were Jagmeet Singh Brar, Jagdish Tytler and Gulchain Singh Charak. Those who have been elevated as general secretaries include Mohan Prakash, Shakeel Ahmed and Luizinho Faleiro who were earlier permanent invitees to the Congress working committee and in-charge of various states.
With Lok Sabha polls less than a year away, Maken has been entrusted with the newly-created communication, publicity and publication wing which will now include the media department of the party. The media department was being handled for the last six years by Janardan Dwivedi.
Priya Dutt will be assisting Maken as secretary with the party appointing as many as 42 secretaries. Maken and Joshi had resigned as Union ministers on Saturday night.
A senior leader remarked that the changes in the organisation showed that this a new generation takeover as the average age of the apex policy making body of the party, the CWC, is now 52 while it was much more earlier.
Rahul, who took over as party vice president in January this year, has kept to himself the charge of front organisations with Prabha Kishor Taviad and Suraj Hegde set to help him as secretaries.
C P Joshi has been entrusted with party affairs in Assam, Bihar, West Bengal and Andaman and Nicobar Islands, while another former Union Minister Gurudas Kamat will look after Gujarat, Rajasthan, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Daman and Diu. Besides CPO, Ambika Soni gets Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand.
Party general secretary Janardan Dwivedi made the announcement about changes in the AICC secretariat ahead of a Cabinet reshuffle.
Faleiro has been made in charge of six northeastern states except Assam, while Mukul Wasnik, who had been in charge of Rajasthan for a record eight years, is now heading South looking after Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Pudducherry and Lakshyadweep.
Hari Prasad retains the charge of poll-bound Chhattisgarh and also gets Jharkhand and Orissa. Mohan Prakash retains Maharashtra as General Secretary and has also been given poll-bound Madhya Pradesh earlier with Hari Prasad. Shakeel Ahmed is the general secretary in-charge of Delhi,
Haryana, Punjab and Chandigarh. This is perhaps for the first time that the party has as many as 12 general secretaries.
Party veteran Moti Lal Vora has been retained as the treasurer and also in charge administration. Significantly, former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh and Union minister Beni Prasad Verma, a known detractor of Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, and former Chhattisgarh chief minister Ajit Jogi have been made permanent invitees to the CWC.
Finance Minister P Chidambaram continues as the permanent invitee, so also former ministers Murli Deora and S M Krishna. Anil Shastri, Raj Babbar, Rashid Masood, Mohinder Singh Kaypee and G Sanjeeva Reddy have been made special invitees to the CWC.
Dwivedi will now look after AICC meetings, AICC departments, CWC, organisation as also co-ordination. With Azad no longer the general secretary, Digvijaya Singh will have to handle the tricky issue of Telangana being in charge of Andhra Pradesh.
Dwivedi said that Azad has not found a place as general secretary and Joshi and Maken have now only become general secretaries as the party in its Chintan Shivir in Jaipur had decided that a person should either be in the government or the party.
Senior leader Mohsina Kidwai has just been made permanent member of the CWC as she wrote to Congress President Sonia Gandhi suggesting that she should be given light work due to her advancing age.
Besides Sonia, Vice President Rahul Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, other members of the CWC are A K Antony, Ahmed Patel, Hema Prova Saikia, Sushila Tiriya and all party general secretaries and the treasurer.
The new Secretaries include Geetashree Oraon, Mainul Haque, Sanjay Kapoor, Subhankar Sarkar, Paresh Dhanani, A Chella Kumar, Thiruvanakassar, Ashwanti Sekhri, Sajjan Kumar Verma, Bhupen Kumar Borah, Naseeb Singhm, Prakash Singh, Rana Goswami and Zuber Khan.
The Congress also announced the screening committees for poll-bound Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram and Rajasthan. While Joshi has been made the chairman for the Chhattisgarh committee, Union minister V Narainswamy heads it in Delhi. Mistry is the Chairman in Madhya Pradesh, Ajay Maken is in Rajasthan and Mohan Prakash in Mizoram.
Image: Ajay Maken and C P Joshi