In a major reshuffle ahead of possible elevation of Rahul Gandhi as party president at the All India Congress Committee session next month, Congress on Monday appointed five new Pradesh Congress Committee chiefs and one regional Congress Committee President.
The reshuffle had a clear imprint of Rahul Gandhi in handing over Ajay Maken the state leadership in Delhi, Ashok Chavan in Maharashtra, Ghulam Ahmed Mir in Jammu and Kashmir Bharatsinh Solanki in Gujarat and Uttam Reddy in Telangana.
AICC secretary Sanjay Nirupam has been made the chief of Mumbai Regional Congress Committee.
The changes in the states were due for long and Rahul was particularly keen to have new PCC chiefs in these states. Indications had it that he had to push hard for changes in Gujarat and Maharashtra.
The changes come at a time when Rahul Gandhi's two-week sabbatical, in the midst of the crucial Budget session, is nearing an end. Party sources said that Rahul will be back soon.
“Congress President Sonia Gandhi has appointed five new Pradesh Congress Committee Presidents and one Regional Congress Committee President,” party general secretary Organisation Janardan Dwivedi said giving the names in an AICC release.
In addition, Mallu Bhati Virkamarka, an MLA has been appointed as Working President for Telangana.
The new Telangana PCC chief Reddy replaces incumbent state chief Ponnala Lakshmaiah, who was appointed only in March last year. Reddy was then made working president.
While Chavan replaces Manikrao Thakre, Ghulam Ahmed Mir replaces Saifuddin Soz in Jammu and Kashmir.
Bharatsinh Solanki, who replaced Arjun Modhwadia as PCC Chief in Gujarat is a former Union minister and son of former chief minister Madhavsinh Solanki. This is his second stint as PCC chief. He had held the post five years ago.
Maken's return as Delhi state chief was a foregone conclusion after he was made the Congress Campaign Committee Chief for Delhi assembly polls as the party wanted to replace the face of three-term Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit with a known face.
Maken replaced Arvinder Singh Lovely, who was made PCC chief last year after the party's rout in 2013 assembly polls in which it had got only eight seats while Dikshit had lost from her home constituency New Delhi.
In the 2014 assembly polls, Congress scored a duck in Delhi and the decision to appoint Maken as PCC chief after the debacle is an indication that the party is readying itself for a long haul in state politics and wants the reins of party affairs to remain in the hands of some known-face.
The changes in the state are a precursor to rejig in AICC, where a number of general secretaries are to be replaced.
The party has also appointed AICC general secretary B K Hariprasad and AICC Secretary Mainul Haque as Observer and Co-Observer for the meeting to elect Congress Legislature Party leader in Jammu and Kashmir.
In Punjab, the name of Lal Singh, a close aide of former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh is doing the rounds. While incumbent Partap Singh Bajwa is to be replaced, Amarinder Singh, who had raised a banner of revolt against Bajwa, is unlikely to become PCC chief. Lal Singh is a choice of the former CM.
Punjab does not figure in the list of states, where changes have been announced on Monday.