Congress president Rahul Gandhi Sunday made two major changes in the All India Congress Committee (AICC) secretariat. He replaced Digvijaya Singh as an AICC general secretary, and divested C P Joshi, who was until now in-charge of West Bengal unit, of his duties.
Former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has been appointed as a general secretary and was also given the charge of Andhra Pradesh, the state Singh was looking after. Lok Sabha MP Gaurav Gogoi has been given charge of West Bengal and Andaman and Nicobar islands.
The party had earlier divested Singh of the charge of other states such as Karnataka, Goa and Telangana.
With these changes, Rahul has sent out multiple messages to the party’s top leadership and ranks. Singh joined the likes of Janardan Dwivedi and B K Hariprasad — Rahul has been slowly but steadily replacing such veteran leaders. A complaint often heard in the AICC after every rejig is that some faces are permanent. Rahul has introduced several new, not necessarily young, faces to the AICC secretariat in the last six months. By giving an organisational role to veteran leader Chandy and the young Gogoi, Rahul has once again tried to put to rest the theory of old versus young in the Congress.
A few days ago, Singh was appointed the chairman of the coordination committee set up for the Madhya Pradesh elections. It seems that the message to him is that he should focus on his new assignment. Joshi, who was in charge of the maximum number of states till recently, has been criticised by local Congress leaders in almost all these states. Rahul’s decision to earlier remove him from Bihar, and now Bengal, signals that he is taking such feedback seriously. Joshi is still in charge of the entire Northeast.
There are messages for Chandy and Gogoi too. Many Congress leaders in Assam believed that Gogoi, son of former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, was keen to take over as state Congress president, replacing Ripun Bora. Rahul, however, has sent a message that Gogoi will have to wait and work his way up.
Chandy’s appointment, on the other hand, means that he will not be considered for position of KPCC president.
However, the veteran leader will face a challenging task of reviving the Congress in Andhra Pradesh, where the party failed to put a decent fight. With both Lok Sabha and Assembly polls due next year, Rahul seems to be banking on Chandy’s experience and organisational acumen to revive the Congress’s fortunes in the state.