New Delhi: Senior ministers P Chidambaram, Salman Khurshid, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Shashi Tharoor and Jyotiraditya Scindia were on Tuesday night brought in as spokespersons as per Rahul Gandhi's plans to bring more punch to party's media strategy ahead of next Lok Sabha polls.
While the four ministers Chidambaram, Azad, Sharma, Khurshid and AICC general secretary Mukul Wasnik have been designated senior spokespersons, Tharoor and Scindia are among the 13 spokespersons appointed by the party.
The need to strengthen the media team of AICC was being felt for a long time and it has been an area of focus for Rahul, who was instrumental in organising a series of media workshops and talent hunt to scout new media faces for Congress.
A number of faces included in the list of spokespersons and television panelists this time have been close aides of the Congress Vice President and have Youth Congress or NSUI background.
Mahila Congress chief Shobha Oza and former UPCC chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi have been included in the team of AICC spokespersons. It is for the first time in last many years that the AICC has two women spokespersons at a time.
After Jayanthi Natarajan was made a minister in UPA-II, party MP Renuka Chaudhary had replaced her as Congress spokesperson. Last year she was also dropped and since then there was no regular woman spokesperson in AICC, though Oza came for formal briefings once or twice.
Tharoor, who is in thick of media glare after his wife Sunanda Pushkar's sudden death has also been included in the list. Party MP Abhishek Singhvi, who was dropped over a CD controversy in May 2012, is back as spokesperson while Bhakta Charan Das has been dropped from the list.
Meem Afzal, who was one of the national spokespersons of AICC media team is also out, but he has been accommodated in the 24-member Congress team of television panelists.
The new list of the 24-member team of media panelists includes Rahul's aides Ashok Tanwar, Meenakshi Natarajan and Mukesh Nayak, besides Jammu and Kashmir PCC chief Saifuddin Soz's son Salman Soz.
The lists of new spokespersons and media panelists have this time been approved jointly by Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, a further indication of the Congress Vice President taking the centrestage. Earlier, such lists used to have the approval of the Congress President alone.
AICC general secretary in-charge and Communication Department Chairman Ajay Maken said the party's regular press briefings will be held five days a week in place of three days now and the time has been changed from 4.15 PM to 2 PM.
Haryana minister Randip Surjewala, former CLP leader of Gujarat Shaktisinh Gohil, Rajya Sabha MP Satyavrat Chaturvedi and Sanjay Jha are new spokespersons, while P C Chacko, Raj Babbar and Sandeep Dikshit have been retained.
The name of Natarajan, who was a former spokesperson, does not figure in the list. When Natarjan had quit as Environment Minister in December, there was speculation that she will be drafted for party work.
The party has set up a 30-member team of television panelists to speak on state issues. These are besides the five senior spokespersons, 13 spokespersons and 24 media panelists to speak on national issues.
Union Ministers Manish Tewari, Rajiv Shukla and RPN Singh are among the 24 new television panelists besides party MPs Deepender Hooda, Sanjay Nirupam and PL Punia.
Chief spokesperson from Bihar Premchand Mishra, former chief spokesperson of Uttar Pradesh Akhilesh Pratap Singh, Krishna Byre Gowda, Balchandra Mungekar, Priyanka Chaturvedi, Ragini Nayak, Rajeev Gowda, Nadeem Javed, Brijesh Kalappa, Chandan Yadav, CR Kesavan, Deepak Ameen and Mukhes Nayak.
Former MLA from UP Vivek Bansal, Manik Tagore, Peter Alphonse, Jyoti Mani and Amrita Dhawan are among the 30 panelists on national media on state issues.
The reshuffle bears a clear impression of Rahul Gandhi, who had made it clear that performance will the key to continuance in party positions. A total of 9 spokespersons and panelists have been dropped from the earlier list.
The names of Arun Yadav and Sachin Pilot no longer figure in the list of panelists but they will remain entitled to be present on television owing to their elevation as PCC chiefs. Yadav and Pilot were recently made PCC chiefs of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan respectively.
Updated Date: Jan 21, 2014 20:50 PM