New Delhi, Sept. 10: Sonia Gandhi’s return last night after a medical check-up in the US has shifted the focus to the impending changes in government and party, which may begin in a couple of days.
Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi today said Sonia’s medical reports were “perfectly all right”.
During her absence, the party and the government had shown aggressive intent in taking the BJP on over the coal-block controversy. Sonia is now expected to speed up the long-overdue reshuffle, with some state units waiting for a new chief for more than a year.
Sources said the process might begin tomorrow with the announcement of a division of the key state of Uttar Pradesh into eight electoral zones, with separate heads to look after organisational preparedness.
Rahul Gandhi has carried out an elaborate exercise to find the key to the party’s revival in the heartland state. He has set up a committee under A.K. Antony to suggest future courses of action.
While Faizabad MP Nirmal Khatri has already been appointed Uttar Pradesh Congress chief, the zonal heads may be chosen from among P.L. Punia, R.P.N. Singh, Rasheed Masood, Jitin Prasada, Rajaram Pal, Vivek Singh, Salman Khurshid and Sri Prakash Jaiswal.
There is a strong possibility of Digvijaya Singh being removed as general secretary in charge of the state but his successor has not been picked yet. The name of Ghulam Nabi Azad, though, has been doing the rounds.
Digvijaya will continue as general secretary but many others may be dropped. While Sonia wants to set up her final team that will take the party into the next election, the changes will reflect Rahul’s influence too.
There is a possibility of some senior cabinet ministers moving to the party organisation and some younger leaders from the “Rahul Brigade” taking on bigger responsibilities.
Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka may get new state unit presidents. Several state Congress chiefs have resigned after poor results in Assembly elections, but uncertainty has continued with these leaders being asked to continue as caretakers.
There will be a change of Bengal Congress president only if Pradip Bhattacharya is made a Union minister.
Sonia had left for the US on September 2 for her second six-monthly check-up following the surgery she underwent there in August last year for an undisclosed ailment. In the last week of February this year, she had travelled to America for her first six-monthly check-up.
Sources close to her said her health was perfectly fine and speculation about her battling cancer or some other life-threatening disease was “sheer nonsense”.
“There is nothing like that. These are routine medical check-ups,” a leader said.