Three weeks after declaring that the 2014 election campaign will be led by Rahul Gandhi, the Congress has announced, in a surprise move, a campaign committee chaired by president Sonia Gandhi. Rahul will be co-chairman of the panel, indicating the campaign will be under the dual leadership of Sonia and Rahul.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, many of his cabinet colleagues and several other party veterans figure in the 50-member jumbo panel announced by the party on Tuesday.
While no chief ministers are included, former chief ministers Ashok Gehlot and Sheila Dikshit are in.
The announcement of the committee with Sonia Gandhi as chairperson was surprising given that the panel in existence is headed by Rahul. The announcement of the campaign committee headed by Sonia Gandhi comes days after the Congress launched an advertisement blitzkrieg featuring Rahul.
Rahul’s solo ads were planned by the Congress to position him against BJP’s prime ministerial face Narendra Modi. Incidentally, the announcement comes at a time when Modi has been sharpening his attack on Rahul, sparing Sonia. Rahul also faced criticism for his showing in a television interview, raising questions over his campaign strategy.
Members of the panel include Union Ministers P Chidambaram, A K Antony, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Salman Khurshid, Anand Sharma, Ghulam Nabi Azad besides the AICC president’s political secretary Ahmed Patel, treasurer Motilal Vora and all general secretaries of the party.
Not many of Rahul’s youth brigade have a place in the committee barring the likes of Jitendra Singh and Krishna Byre Gowda although young leaders like Manish Tewari, Randeep Surjewala, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Dinesh Gundurao and Anant Gadgil are part of the team.
Party gives them 48 hours to respond.