Rahul Gandhi has set out to revamp the Congress party after the recent drubbing it received in the assembly elections. Renu Mittal reports
In the wake of the massive drubbing the Congress received in the four state assemblies to which elections were held, party vice-president Rahul Gandhi has begun the process of reorganization of the state units to be followed by the revamp of the All India Congress Committee.
Former minister and Sheila Dikshit loyalist Arvind Singh Lovely has been appointed as the new Delhi unit president in place of Jai Prakash Aggrawal who had resigned after the party won a mere 8 seats in the 70-member assembly.
Despite the humiliating defeat, it appears clear that Sheila’s writ still runs strongly with Rahul who appears to have given in to the former chief minister while selecting the new Delhi unit president.
It is significant that the party has opted for a man from the minority community since most of those who won were from there.
Chhattisgarh, where again the Congress lost despite being in a close contest, also has a new Congress chief. The new man in is Bhupesh Bagel, an MLA who belongs to the Other Backward Classes and is a known PIL activist.
Goa also has a new state president with John F Fernandes being appointed to the post. He is known to be a senior leader in the faction-ridden unit in the state.
Two more Pradesh Congress Committee presidents are on the way for Haryana and Uttarakhand.
AICC secretary and Haryana Lok Sabha MP Ashok Tanwar is tipped to be the new chief of the Haryana unit.
Sources say that his name has been cleared and the letter signed, but has been held back after state chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda protested at not having been consulted by the party leadership.
Hooda has so far ensured that his loyalist Phool Chand Mullana remains the state president, but Rahul does not appear to be in the mood to oblige him unlike Sonia Gandhi who adopted softer ways of dealing in such situation.
Hooda is learnt to have asked for time from Sonia to stop the appointment of Tanwar who is a Scheduled Caste and was Youth Congress president. Tanwar is credited with being non-aligned in the faction-ridden Congress party of Haryana and despite the fact that he is a Lok Sabha MP and would be contesting the coming elections, Rahul is learnt to have insisted that he should be given the important post.
Uttarakhand is also headed for change. While the state president is being changed, Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna is also on the way out as reports against him are seen to be extremely adverse.
After that it is the turn of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh where the Congress suffered defeat at the hustings and where both the Congress legislature party and the PCC presidents would be changed. Here again, the exercise is on to ensure that the right caste combinations are brought along.
In Rajasthan, it has been decided that none of the newly-elected MLAs would be given an MP ticket simply because the numbers are so low (21) that if it becomes any less, the Congress would not be able to get the status of leader of the opposition (a party needs 10 per cent of the seats to bag that title).
In his meeting with senior editors, Rahul has expressed his zeal to make big changes in his party.
He has made it clear that the real big bang changes would be after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections where he is expected to phase out the senior leaders and bring in more younger leaders at the helm of affairs.