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Rahul Gandhi may not get a secretary
Saubhadra Chatterji in New Delhi
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December 05, 2007 13:04 IST

Because the whole party is there to assist Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi [Images], he might not get a secretary to help him.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi [Images] is working to reshuffle All India Congress Committee secretaries. The party has 34 secretaries, who are the crucial third layer in the organisation and support the 17 general secretaries.

Since this is considered a grooming phase that will create future leaders through on-job training, secretaries are usually young people who have been given specific tasks.

While the practice is to attach two secretaries to a general secretary, there may be a departure in Rahul Gandhi's case. Sources say there is a strong possibility that he will not have a deputy reporting to him.

Other general secretaries have been unofficially informed who their deputies will be. The young Member of Parliament from Uttar Pradesh Jitin Prasada will work under Kishore Chandra Deo and look after Bihar and programme implementation.

Another new entrant, Alka Lamba, has been attached to Mohsina Kidwai to keep a watch over Kerala [Images]. Mabel Rebello will work with B K Hariprasad, and her immediate task will be to boost the party set-up in Gujarat.

There are two reasons to keep Rahul Gandhi insulated from external influences. One, the party high command wants to send a message that the whole party is with him instead of allowing a few people to cosy up to him. Second, sources say, a secretary-less office will prevent controversies.

For example, it is impossible to accommodate all sensitive caste or gender categories since there can only be up to three deputies. As a top leader says: "Controversies are inevitable and our adversaries could pose questions on why Rahul Gandhi has a preference for a particular caste or religion."

The final decision, however, is yet to be taken by his mother Sonia Gandhi. A public announcement on the assignments is expected soon after the Congress chief returns from Gujarat and finalises the slots. However, informally, many general secretaries and secretaries have been informed about their duties.

K Suresh has been attached with Ashok Gehlot while Harender Mirdha and Abdul Mannan will assist Prithviraj Chavan.

Similarly, Rajiv Shukla will report to Ajay Maken and Vivek Bansal will assist Mukul Wasnik. Priya Dutt and Madhu Goud Yashki are yet to get their assignments.

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