The massive organisational reshuffle by Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Friday is a reconciliatory message to the 23 senior leaders who had written an unprecedented letter to her early last month demanding sweeping changes in the party and appointment of a “full time and effective leadership” which is both “visible” and “active” in the field.
Some among the 23 have been promoted while others given representation in key committees like the one to assist her in organisational and operational matters till a new party president and the panel to hold organisational elections are appointed.
Sonia appears to have pulled off a fine balancing act, with both sides claiming they were satisfied on Friday. While the younger lot seen in the Rahul Gandhi camp asserted that the dissenters had been cut to size, one of the letter writers told The Indian Express, “Sonia Gandhi has lived up to her closing statement at the CWC on August 24 (after the letter was published by The Indian Express) that ‘let’s put the past behind and move forward unitedly’.”
Perhaps the one name everyone was looking at to see what Sonia would do was of Ghulam Nabi Azad. The senior-most among the 23 leaders to have signed the letter, he was stripped of the post of general secretary and the charge of Haryana, but retained as a full member of the CWC. A senior leader claimed that Azad had at least a year ago told Sonia he would not like to continue as general secretary.
Anand Sharma, another prominent signatory in the letter, has also been retained as a full member of the CWC.
Besides, several other senior leaders were removed as general secretaries, including Ambika Soni, one of the most vocal against him and the other letter writers at the CWC, and Mallikarjun Kharge, Motilal Vora and Luizinho Faleiro. The change was interpreted as phasing out of the old and induction of young leaders in the AICC Secretariat.
Soni, too, has been accommodated, as a member of the committee that will assist the Congress president.
Mukul Wasnik, another big name among the 23, has been retained as general secretary in charge of Madhya Pradesh. While he longer has charge of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, he finds place in the key six-member committee set up to assist the Congress president till the next AICC election. He will also continue in the CWC by virtue of the fact that he is a general secretary.
Sources said Sonia had been in touch with Azad, Sharma and Wasnik in the last few days.
Jitin Prasada, who was among the young signatories to the letter, has got a leg-up. He has been made in charge of West Bengal, which goes to elections next year. While those among the letter writers argued that Prasada’s elevation was a signal that Sonia holds no grudge against them, those close to Rahul contended Prasada had conveyed to the leadership that he never intended to challenge the Gandhis and that he had signed the letter without any mala fide.
Also part of the 23, Arvinder Singh Lovely, former former president of the Delhi Congress, is now in the reconstituted Central Election Authority.
Here is the full list of organisational reshuffle
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