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Congress overhaul as it prepares for assembly polls

By Anita Katyal
May 29, 2014 21:47 IST
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Congress President Sonia Gandhi, with her children Rahul and Priyanka.A revamp of the All Indian Congress Committee is also on the cards. contributor Anita Katyal reports.

The Congress party has dissolved the executive body and district and block level committees of its units in Delhi and Haryana where assembly elections will be held in October.

The executive of the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee along with other cells and departments of the Delhi unit were similarly disbanded last week following a directive from the All India Congress Committee.

A similar revamp of the Maharashtra unit is also likely.

Congress communication department head Ajay Maken said the restructuring was being done to bring in new faces with an eye on the upcoming assembly elections.

Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi has been meeting party workers to get their feedback on why the party fared so badly in the Lok Sabha election.

Delhi, which is under central rule following then chief minister Arvind Kejriwal's resignation, may go to the polls along with states like Delhi, Haryana and Maharashtra.

Haryana Congress President Ashok Tanwar and Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee chief Arvinder Singh Lovely, who were appointed shortly before the Lok Sabha poll, are being retained in their posts.

"The objective is to give these young leaders an opportunity to pick their own team for the assembly polls," Maken said.

The Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh units, which have young state unit presidents, are also likely to be revamped.

The Congress lost all the Lok Sabha seats in Delhi while it won only one seat in neighbouring Haryana. The party fared no better in Maharashtra where it was won just two seats.

The disastrous election results have led to infighting in the Congress's state units. Angry party leaders have demanded that the gap between the leadership and the workers be bridged. There have also been demands for the resignation of chief ministers and state unit presidents who failed to deliver.

Congress sources said a revamp of the AICC is also on the cards and could be undertaken after changes in the state units have been made.

While organisational changes are being contemplated, the Congress leadership is not inclined to dismiss its chief ministers. Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi offered to resign, but it was turned down even though a large number of legislators revolted against him.

A senior Congress leader said Congress President Sonia Gandhi was constrained from removing Gogoi as it would immediately lead to similar demands in other Congress-ruled states.

Besides, it would serve no purpose to change chief ministers in the poll-bound states of Haryana and Maharashtra. With elections only months away a change of guard is not expected to make any impact on the ground.

The Congress had removed Vijay Bahuguna and appointed Harish Rawat as Uttarakhand chief minister before the Lok Sabha election, but this change failed to yield any electoral benefit for the party. The Congress lost all the five Lok Sabha seats in Uttrakhand.

Image: Congress President Sonia Gandhi, with her children Rahul and Priyanka.

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Anita Katyal in New Delhi
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