Congress removes Ghulam Nabi Azad, Motilal Vora in major reshuffle; Jitin Prasada gets permanent spot in AICC

Azad was the senior-most leader among the 23 dissenters who had last month written a letter to Sonia Gandhi seeking changes in the party leadership

FP Staff September 12, 2020 00:53:41 IST
Congress removes Ghulam Nabi Azad, Motilal Vora in major reshuffle; Jitin Prasada gets permanent spot in AICC

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Sonia Gandhi on Friday brought about a major reshuffle in the ranks and file of the Indian National Congress, days after news of differences amidst senior leaders had rocked the party.

Among the most notable changes, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has been removed from his post of Congress general secretary. Azad was one of the senior-most leader among the group of 23 who had written a letter to Sonia expressing dissatisfaction with the way party affairs were being managed, following which the signatories had faced backlash from within the party.

Apart from Azad, other senior leaders who were removed as general secretaries Friday night were Motilal Vora, Ambika Soni, Luizinho Faleiro and Mallikarjun Kharge.

Soni, however, has been included in the special committee formed to assist Sonia in organisational matters. The other leaders on the six-member special committee include Sonia loyalists such as AK Antony, Ahmed Patel, Randeep Surjewala and KC Venugopal. The only dissident leader to have gotten a seat on the special advisory panel is Mukul Wasnik. Wasnik has also been made AICC general secretary incharge for Madhya Pradesh.

Another dissident who seem to have been given a promotion of sorts was Jitin Prasada. He has not only been granted charge of the key poll-bound state West Bengal, but has also been given a permanent spot on the All India Congress Committee. Prasada, until now, was a special invitee to the AICC.

From the 'group of 23' leaders, who had written letter to Sonia seeking Congress' overhaul, Azad, Wasnik and Anand Sharma continue to be regular members of the CWC. Arvinder Singh Lovely, also one of the signatories of the letter, has been accommodated as a member of the Central Election Authority.

Faleiro, Vora, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and Tamradhwaj Sahu have been dropped from the CWC. In their place, Sonia has appointed P Chidambaram, Randeep Surjewala, Tariq Anwar and Jitendra Singh as its regular members.

While Chowdhury has been made a permanent invitee of AICC, the other three have been dropped from all central posts.

The organisational changes bears the stamp of Rahul Gandhi, with majority of the new appointees known to be his close aides. Some of the young leaders considered close to him have been given key organisational roles as incharge of various states and figure in the reconstituted CWC as permanent and special invitees.

Sonia appointed general secretaries and state in-charges of the All India Congress Committee (AICC). Surjewala, Jitendra Singh and Ajay Maken have been appointed as new general secretaries for Karnataka, Assam and Rajasthan, respectively, according to News18

Vivek Bansal has replaced Azad as general secretary in-charge of Haryana. Anugrah Narayan Singh, Asha Kumari, Gaurav Gogoi and Ram Chandra Khuntia are among those dropped by the Congress as its incharge for states.

There is no change in the role of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra who will now be the AICC general secretary incharge for Uttar Pradesh. She was earlier general secretary for Uttar Pradesh East, but was practically taking care of the entire state after Jyotiraditya Scindia, who was general secretary for Uttar Pradesh (West), quit and joined the BJP.

The Congress president also reconstituted the party's Central Election Authority appointing Madhusudan Mistry as its chairman of CEA while Rajesh Misra, Krishna Byre Gowda, S Jothimani and Arvinder Singh Lovely as members. The CEA will elect the new Congress president.

The aforementioned letter by party insiders called for full time and effective leadership apart from elections to the Congress Working Committee (CWC) and an “institutional leadership mechanism” aimed at the party’s revival.  The letter also stated that CWC meetings are now convened only according to political developments, apart from Sonia’s customary address and obituary references.

The reshuffle also comes amid backdrop of a supposed divide within the Congress ranks, with younger members pushing for the return of Rahul Gandhi while the old guard maintaining that they weren't opposed to the proposal but needed more clarity from the Gandhi scion on the direction he wishes to take after assuming charge of the party.

The Congress was toppled into a leadership crisis after Rahul had quit the Congress top post following party's debacle in the 2019 general elections — the second time in a row. Sonia had stepped in to take over the role in the interim till the party decided on a new presidential candidate. But over a year later, there seems to be no agreement on a non-Gandhi member heading the grand old party.

With inputs from PTI

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