The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Congress stalls state revamp

New Delhi, April 11: Despite the pressure on it from leaders in states like Jharkhand, Uttaranchal and Andhra Pradesh for revamp of their pradesh Congress committees, the high command has stalled the contemplated state-level changes until party chief Sonia Gandhi affects the long-delayed reshuffle of the AICC.

This message has been conveyed to Congress leaders from Uttaranchal and Jharkhand earlier this week and to those from Andhra sometime earlier, according to party sources.

Uttaranchal chief minister N.D. Tiwari was in the capital a couple of days ago to urge the party leadership to replace Harish Rawat, the incumbent state Congress chief. The Rawat camp, in turn, has again urged the high command for Tiwari’s ouster. The high command has apparently conveyed to Tiwari during their meeting here that the state party unit issue would be taken up only after the AICC reshuffle.

A large contingent of leaders from Jharkhand that had urged the early formation of a full-fledged pradesh Congress committee have also been told to wait until the AICC changes. Obviously, the current team of AICC office bearers are not inclined to undertake a revamp of state party units in view of the uncertainty over their own fate.

Chief ministers of some states, including Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh, have cited the uncertainty over the AICC revamp as the reason for deferring their stated reshuffle plans.

However, according to some AICC functionaries, Sonia is looking at the changes she intends to affect in an integrated manner. “Perhaps the changes in the AICC and at the PCC levels will come as a package,” they said.

However, such a package for revitalising the party organisational set up is unlikely to come before the April 14 Rajya Sabha elections from Kerala, they said. At present, the Congress president’s priority was to overcome the crisis in the Kerala unit over the polls.

The party chief has asked R.K. Dhawan and Ghulam Nabi Azad — two senior working committee members — to go to Kerala as central observers and defuse the crisis arising out of veteran party leader K. Karunakaran’s rebellion.

Karunakaran shield

Karunakaran was about to face the Congress high commnad’s stick for raising a banner of revolt over the Rajya Sabha poll nominations, but son K. Muralidharan — a bitter political foe — saved him.

Muralidharan, over consultations on Tuesday and Wednesday, conveyed to the Congress leadership that it could not take action against his father if it wanted him to continue as Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president, say sources.

Muralidharan is believed to have told the high command that his resignation, communicated through a letter to Sonia last week, should first be accepted if action were to be initiated against the veteran leader.

He, however, agreed to put his stamp of approval to the expulsion of K. Govindan Nair, the rebel candidate put up by Karunakaran for the April 14 Rajya Sabha polls

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