May 12, 2021 2:10:59 am
CONGRESS PRESIDENT Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday set up two committees — one to look into the party’s defeat in the assembly elections and another to coordinate the organisation’s Covid-19 relief activities — and sent yet another signal at reconciliation by including key members of the G 23 like Ghulam Nabi Azad, Manish Tewari and Mukul Wasnik in these panels.
Azad, in fact, will head the 13-member Covid task force. This is his first party assignment after retirement from Rajya Sabha earlier this year, which resulted in Mallikarjun Kharge replacing him as the Leader of the Opposition. Many of the G 23 leaders were upset with the party leadership for not re-nominating Azad to the Upper House.
The move to include Tewari in a five-member group, which will be headed by former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan, to “evaluate the results” of the Assembly elections too is being seen as a signal.
The other members of the group are former union minister Salman Khurshid, Vincent Pala and Lok Sabha MP Jothi Mani.
By including the likes of Tewari and Azad in key panels, the Congress leadership also hopes to blunt possible attacks from the G 23, as the leaders who had written to Gandhi last year seeking reforms in the party has come to be known as, over the disastrous performance of the party in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Assam and West Bengal.
The move came a day after senior leaders Azad, Anand Sharma and Digvijaya Singh questioned the party’s decision to ally with the AIUDF in Assam and enter into an association with the ISF in West Bengal at a meeting of the Congress Working Committee. Azad said the party’s performance would have been the same in Assam had it not aligned with the AIUDF. Referring to the tie up with the ISF in Bengal, he and Sharma had argued that the central leadership should be involved in policy matters like formation of alliances.
Sharma had argued that alliances, be it state-wise or national, should be arrived at after due deliberations as alliances create and drive perceptions and can have both regional fallout and national repercussions. Both Azad and Sharma had argued that election results must be discussed in detail. Sharma, in fact, said introspection and analysis have become taboo words in the party and argued that when suggestions for introspection are given they should not be taken otherwise.
Sharma said the Congress should not become intolerant like the BJP and argued the party should show the mirror to the BJP and not become its mirror.
Headed by Azad, the Covid relief task force has as its members Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Youth Congress president B V Srinivas, who had earned much praise for his efforts to provide help to Covid patients. The other members are Ambika Soni, Mukul Wasnik, Pawan Bansal, K C Venugopal, Jairam Ramesh, Randeep Surjewala, Manish Chatrath, Ajoy Kumar, Pawan Khera and Gurdeep Singh Sappal.
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