The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cong gears for chop & change

New Delhi, March 31: After Sunday’s successful rally, Sonia Gandhi has turned her attention on “re-arranging” her AICC team.

Barely an hour after the rally at the Ramlila ground, which followed a two-day national convention of Congress grassroots workers, Sonia summoned all AICC general secretaries at her residence for a meeting, according to informed sources.

Later, party circles were agog with speculation that the Congress chief had asked senior office-bearers to resign from their posts to pave the way for a “massive reshuffle”.

When contacted, some of the general secretaries rejected such speculation. “Why should she be asking for the resignations' Who will have objections if the party president decides to pick a new team'” said one.

But another general secretary conceded that Sonia was in the process of finalising the revamp. “I do know that such an exercise is on. But the party president is keeping the whole issue a closely guarded secret,” the functionary said.

Sources said some general secretaries are apprehensive that they might not survive the shuffle, which is meant to put in place a strong team to equip the party for the electoral battles ahead. While several states are scheduled to go to polls later this year, the Lok Sabha elections are due next year.

Apparently, the message has also gone across to several AICC secretaries that they might be called any time by the party chief. Most of them are anxious as there has been talk that Sonia might drastically bring down the number of secretaries in the AICC.

AICC circles believe that Sonia will announce a new team any time, most probably before Parliament’s budget session reconvenes next week. “Sonia will be on a day-long visit to Rajasthan on Wednesday. Perhaps, she will make the changes after her return from the state,” said a party leader.

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