With its top leaders identifying lack of communication as one of the major reasons for the poor perception about the UPA government, the Congress on Tuesday brought in heavyweights like union ministers P Chidambaram, Anand Sharma, Salman Khurshid and Ghulam Nabi Azad as its senior spokespersons and appointed 13 spokespersons, which included Abhishek Manu Singhvi and union minister Shashi Tharoor.
Singhvi was brought back into the panel of spokespersons nearly two years after he was dropped in the wake of the CD controversy. Tharoor was appointed spokesperson at a time when he was mourning the death of his wife Sunanda Pushkar which is under police investigation.
While Chidambaram, Sharma, Khurshid, Azad and AICC general secretary Mukul Wasnik have been designated senior spokespersons, union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, Satyavrat Chaturvedi, AICC general secretary Shakeel Ahmed, Shobha Ojha, Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Shakti Sinh Gohil, Sanjay Jha, Randeep Surjewala have been appointed as spokespersons, beefing up the party’s communication department in time for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
The party retained P C Chacko, Raj Babbar and Sandeep Dikshit as national spokespersons, while dropping Renuka Choudhary and Bhakta Charan Das and downgrading Meem Afzal as a television panelist. For the first time, the Congress designated 30 leaders as television panelists to speak on state issues.
The party also inducted several youngsters – many of whom with NSUI or Youth Congress background as television panelists reflecting the Rahul Gandhi imprint in the rejig. Among them are former Youth Congress chief Ashok Tanwar, Chandan Yadav, Meenakshi Natarajan, Nadeem Javed, Ragini Nayak, Saifuddin Soz’s son Salman Soz and Priyanka Chaturvedi.
The Congress has been toying with the idea of reshuffling the media team after the realisation that communication and — in Rahul’s words — marketing have been one of the weak points of the UPA II and the Congress. It had done a series of media workshops as part of the talent hunt.
Chidambaram himself, in an interview to The Indian Express, spoke about the need for the leadership to communicate with the media and public more often. “I think it is a fair criticism that we have not communicated our achievements to the people. People expect communication from the top. But given the nature and the personality of our leaders at the top, they have been, if I may say, in an understated way, very media shy,” he had said.
The Congress has also decided to make press briefings at the AICC headquarters a daily affair from thrice a day now and advance the briefing time to 2 pm from 4.15 pm.