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Cong readies defence against NaMo attack

- Ramesh, Hariprasad to discuss poll strategies; Bhagat works out key committees

Ranchi, Dec. 22: Senior Congress leaders Jairam Ramesh and B.K. Hariprasad are expected to arrive in Ranchi tomorrow to prepare the party leaders for the battle ahead and counter the “NaMo salvo” that the BJP will launch here on December 29.

Union rural development minister Ramesh and Jharkhand in-charge Hariprasad are likely to work out future strategies and discuss various internal issues to iron out differences within the state unit.

This apart, the language controversy triggered by HRD minister Geetashree Oraon is also on the top of the central leaders’ agenda.

Apparently, Geetashree is in favour of removing Magahi and Bhojpuri languages from the list of optional subjects for Teachers Eligibility Test. Her public statement on the issue has put the Congress in a spot.

Ramesh and Hariprasad will try to settle the row, which has the potential to dent the party’s vote bank in the coming elections.

The Congress leaders may also call on chief minister Hemant Soren to sort out differences among the allies.

“Hariprasad will arrive here tomorrow on a daylong trip. He will hold meetings with party MLAs, ministers and office-bearers to discuss future plans,” said Congress spokesman Shailesh Sinha.

He added that Ramesh’s visit was imminent but a final confirmation form his office was awaited.

State Congress supremo Sukhdeo Bhagat is expected to announce the party’s working committee and executive committee in a few days, six months after he was elevated as the chief of the deeply divided state unit.

Sources said compositions of the new committees might trigger a fresh row as none of the 14 legislators and three parliamentarians found a place in the two key teams.

Apparently, Bhagat is now exerting his control on the organisation, while keeping all disgruntled, influential factions out of the party’s key committees.

With a tacit support from the Congress central leadership, Bhagat is learnt to have kept only “dedicated” members in these teams.

When asked, Bhagat refused to reveal the names of the members. “At this moment I can only say that the committees will be a mix of fresh talents and experienced people,” Bhagat said.

The Congress central leadership is understood to have okayed the lists of nominees for the two committees.

With this move, Bhagat will be able to get rid of his bęte noire and former state president Pradeep Kumar Balmuchu and his aide Dhiraj Sahu, both Rajya Sabha MPs.

And in the effort, he has also kept his patron and Ranchi MP Subodh Kant Sahay out of the two teams.

Sources said the working committee would comprise 50 members as against the earlier proposal for 41 people. There will be five posts of vice presidents, 15 seats each for general secretaries and secretaries. This apart, there will be five special invitees in the team.

The executive committee, on the other hand, will have around 20 members.