The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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GeNext misses out in AICC revamp

New Delhi, July 17: GenerationNext leaders like Rahul Gandhi will have to wait awhile for positions of responsibility in the Congress organisation.

Guarded about her oft-stated desire to infuse young blood, Sonia Gandhi instead opted for experienced intermediate level leaders, bringing in a new team of general secretaries to rejuvenate the party organisation.

Setting about the much-awaited post-poll organisational revamp at the AICC headquarters today, the Congress chief inducted six new general secretaries, among them former Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan chief ministers Digvijay Singh and Ashok Gehlot, respectively.

Salman Khursheed and Janardhana Dwivedi (who were both special invitees to the working committee till now) figure on the list as do former Union minister Margaret Alva and Satyavrat Chaturvedi, a Congress spokesman until now. All have become general secretaries for the first time.

Salman will be in charge of party affairs in Bengal while Digvijay, who remains in charge of Assam and Orissa, has been given Andhra Pradesh as well. Chaturvedi, a surprise choice for the general secretary’s job, will be in charge of the crucial state of Uttar Pradesh.

Only Ambika Soni and Mukul Wasnik of the previous team of general secretaries have been retained. Soni, who declined an offer to join the Manmohan Singh ministry in May, was rewarded with the all-important additional charge of Congress Working Committee and AICC affairs which Oscar Fernandes, now a minister, handled for the last eight years. Oscar, who exited as general secretary, will be a permanent invitee to the working committee.

So far the practice had been that all Congress chief ministers were automatically permanent invitees to the working committee. But this has been stopped.

Untouched by the revamp, Motilal Vora continues as party treasurer and Ahmed Patel as Sonia’s political secretary. All those who have joined the government have been relieved of party duties, but an exception has been made for defence minister Pranab Mukherjee. He will look after party affairs in the problem state of Punjab.

Although they are not general secretaries, former Uttar Pradesh Congress unit chief Harikesh Bahadur, Ramesh Chennithala and Vilasrao Deshmukh have been given charge of various states.

Deshmukh continues as a member of the new working committee while Harikesh and Chennithala were made permanent invitees to the CWC. Chennithala is the new AICC leader in charge of all northeastern states, except Assam. Harikesh takes R.K. Dhawan’s place as AICC leader in charge of Bihar and Jharkhand.

Recasting the working committee — the party’s apex policy-making body — Sonia has brought in eight new faces and purged nine from the earlier team of 24 members. Besides the six general secretaries of the previous team who did not find a place in the new working committee, the others to exit are Union ministers Meira Kumar and Mahabir Prasad and Uttaranchal chief minister .D. Tiwari.

Tiwari has lost his place in the leadership pack though he retains his chief minister’s post. But veteran Kerala leader K. Karunakaran has been discarded, as have working committee members Sarojini Pulla Reddy and Ommem Deori.

By virtue of being appointed general secretaries, all six new general secretaries have become working committee members

Manmohan and his five heavyweight ministers — Arjun Singh, Mukherjee, Shivraj Patil, Natwar Singh and Ghulam Nabi Azad — will continue to be on the policy-making body.

But all ministers who were special invitees earlier — Jaipal Reddy, Mani Shankar Aiyar, P.M. Sayeed, P.R. Das Munshi and Prithviraj Chavan — have been excluded from the list of 12 special invitees. Intuc chief Sanjeev Reddy has also lost his post as special invitee.

The Congress chief has also named 25 secretaries, 17 of them new, to assist the general secretaries.

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