Congress structural rejig: Mallikarjun Kharge likely to be removed as PAC chairman, to play key role in Karnataka

As Congress, going through its lowest phase in electoral politics, prepares for a "bounce back," various media reports suggest a major reshuffle in the party. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has already set the wheels in motion in Odisha after meeting with party leaders to finalise an organisational revamp in the state unit. It recently also removed Digvijaya Singh as Goa in-charge after the senior leader failed to stitch an alliance and lost the state to BJP, despite being the majority party.

Now, a report in The Indian Express suggests that a major reshuffle in the central organisational committee and the parliamentary wing is likely to follow that will see Mallikarjun Kharge being removed as the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), so that he can play a more active role in Karnataka politics.

Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge. Image courtesy PIB

Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge. Image courtesy PIB

Kharge is one of the stalwarts from the state, who the party hopes to rope in ahead of the 2018 state elections, to fortify it's chances despite a cleaving state unit. Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has been accused of authoritarianism in the party and the leader has faced resentment from within quite often.

In December last year, 20 MLAs had revolted against the state's chief minister, accusing him of corruption, however, the central leadership was able to save the party from a mass defection. In March 2016, several party MLAs had written to the Congress high command to appoint someone from the Vokkaliga (second largest community) as the KPCC president to take on BJP's Yeddyurappa. Nearly 50 percent of the party legislators skipped Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting and a dinner hosted by the Karnataka chief minister. Another bout of discontent was triggered when Siddaramaiah rejigged the state cabinet in June last year. Many legislators were upset after losing their ministerial berths, but were later pacified by handing out plum posts in various boards and corporations.

Karnataka is one of the last few Congress strongholds and the party would like to retain in the state elections to be held in 2018. Moreover, keeping in mind the 2019 elections, the party is also looking at a course correction.

Congress has recently changed its state incharge in Karnataka as  KC Venugopal was appointed in place of Digvijaya Singh. Reports have that G Parameshwar, who has served as the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) chief since 2010, is also set to be replaced shortly, according to Deccan Chronicle.  If Kharge is appointed the national secretary in-charge of state ahead of the election, it will help the Congress regain control over various factions within the party.

Meanwhile, in the central leadership, speculations around Kharge's replacement in the PAC have warmed up. The Indian Express report says that no decision has been taken yet. However, it is expected that after the reshuffle, Congress chief whip in Lok Sabha Jyotiraditya Scindia and AICC General Secretary Kamal Nath will have larger roles to play. The organisational revamp is also likely to bring to the fore young leadership as Rahul wants a new crop of leaders ready to fill in the shoes of Congress stalwarts, when the time comes. Moreover, according to a report in the Livemint, the party is restructuring organisational structure at state level. Rahul is keen on choosing new AICC general secretaries and national secretaries so that one man is accountable for one state.

Earlier, the general secretaries would be in-charge of two, three or even four states and will have several national secretaries in each state reporting to them. However, the new structure will give national secretaries greater independence, who will be solely responsible for their respective states. The new structure is also likely to create greater accountability as one person will be focusing on one state each.

Updated Date: May 11, 2017 14:04 PM

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