Updated: May 24, 2022 3:23:40 pm
In yet another signal of rapprochement, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday included G-23 leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma in an eight-member political affairs group she constituted on the day to advise her. Sonia also announced a task force for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections which, interestingly, has election strategist Sunil Kanugolu as a member.
Sonia had announced the setting up of the two bodies in her concluding address at the Udaipur chintan shivir. Now that Azad and Sharma have been included in the political affairs group headed by her, it remains to be seen whether the two would be considered for Rajya Sabha seats. The party is in a position to get 9-10 seats and it is to be seen whether the induction of the two would mean that they will not be considered for the Upper House.
“Each member of the task force shall be assigned specific tasks related to organisation, communications and media, outreach, finance and election management. They shall have designated teams which will be notified subsequently. The task force will also follow up on the Udaipur Nav Sankalp Declaration and the reports of the six groups,” a Congress statement said.
Besides Azad and Sharma, the political affairs group has Rahul Gandhi, Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, Ambika Soni, Digvijaya Singh, AICC general secretary in charge of organisation K C Venugopal and AICC’s Assam in-charge Jitendra Singh. It is a major elevation for the young Singh, considered a key member of Team Rahul.
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The task force members are P Chidambaram, Mukul Wasnik (another signatory to the G-23 letter), Jairam Ramesh, Venugopal, Ajay Maken, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Randeep Singh Surjewala and Kanugolu, who was once with Prashant Kishor. With Kanugolu’s induction, it has become official that he will be part of the Congress’s campaign and election management efforts for 2024.
On Tuesday, Sonia Gandhi also announced a central planning group for coordination of the Bharat Yatra which will begin on October 2. Members of the group are Digvijaya Singh, Sachin Pilot, Lok Sabha MPs Shashi Tharoor, Ravneet Singh Bittu, Jothi Mani, Pradyut Bordoloi, K J George, Jitu Patwari and Saleem Ahmed.
For the yatra, the Congress has already decided to reach out to like-minded political forces and civil society groups to make the exercise broad-based, pegging it on issues like attack on the Constitution, assault on secularism and the sale of profit-making PSUs. The yatra, to be led by Rahul, is expected to go on for four to five months as the aim is to traverse 3,500-odd kilometres across a dozen-odd states.
In her speech at Udaipur, Sonia Gandhi had announced that a Compact Task Force will be set up to drive the process of internal reforms that are essential and that have been discussed in different groups over the three days. “These reforms with a focus on the 2024 Lok Sabha polls will cover all aspects of the organisation including structure, rules for appointments to party posts, communications and publicity, outreach, finances and election management,” she had said.
She had also announced the setting up of an “advisory group” drawn from the Congress Working Committee (CWC) that would meet regularly to discuss and deliberate upon political issues and challenges before the party. “Of course, we do have the CWC that meets from time to time and that will continue. The new group is not, however, a collective decision-making body but will help me get the benefit of the vast experience of senior colleagues. It too will be notified very soon,” she had said.
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