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Jairam Ramesh: The rising star of Rahul's Congress

By Renu Mittal
December 23, 2013 23:14 IST
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Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh continues to be the rising star in Rahul Gandhi’s Congress. With the Congress war room at Gurdwara Rakabganj Road being re-designated as the Congress Coordination Centre, Ramesh has been appointed as the convenor of a small group which would look after the co-ordination work for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Renu Mittal reports.

While Ramesh would effectively head and manage the party’s war room, handling all co-ordination related to elections, there has been speculation for some time that he would quit his ministerial job and devote full time to the party and the war room in the run up to the elections.

It is interesting that the members of this group who will manage the coordination centre have not been appointed by the party leadership. The group headed by Ramesh would work as the secretariat for the strategy committee for the Lok Sabha polls headed by Rahul and would provide them with all logistical support to handle election related work.

Ramesh was part of the group in the run up to the 2004 Lok Sabha polls which operated from 99 South Avenue and which formulated the party’s strategy for the elections where the Congress defeated the Bharatiya Janata Party and came to power at the Centre.

All India Congress Committee in-charge of Uttarakhand Ambika Soni and External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid were other members of the group, and from here emerged the aam admi slogan which became such a hit at that time.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi has constituted another committee for drafting the resolution for the coming AICC session on January 17 at the Talkatora Stadium in New Delhi. While Defence Minister A K Antony is the chairman of the committee, Ramesh is a member along with Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram and key member Mohan Gopal.

The resolution would look at the current political situation in the country and give a sense of hope to the congress workers across the country on preparing for the elections to the Lok Sabha.

It is expected that Ramesh would also be a key component of the party’s manifesto committee which is expected to come up with some new ideas on wooing the voters from different walks of life.

Rahul has decided to open up the manifesto preparation route and while a meeting was held with SC, ST and OBC experts from different walks of life, there was a meeting with the minority groups on Monday for new ideas related to the minorities and their problems.

A special emphasis is expected on education for the minorities and the Congress is expected to come up with some schemes to woo the minority voters. The party is finding it difficult to explain why it has not brought the Communal Violence Bill or the Equal Opportunities Bill.

There was criticism in the meeting on why the Congress has been consulting only a few minority leaders in its own party while formulating the manifesto promises, while ignoring other voices and sections who have something worthwhile to contribute. Rahul is learnt to have assured them that their sentiments would be kept in mind.

In a departure from the past, Rahul is keen to involve various stakeholders while forming the party’s election manifesto so as to reflect their aspirations and their voices and work on this has already begun. Ramesh is expected to be a key member of Rahul’s  team as he begins preparations for Mission 2014.

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Renu Mittal in New Delhi