Congress does a rejig ahead of cabinet reshuffle

Congress does a rejig ahead of cabinet reshuffle

Kharge likely to be Rly minister

Congress does a rejig ahead of cabinet reshuffle

Warming up for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the Congress on Sunday reconstituted the party’s central organisation, while Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is also set to reshuffle his council of ministers on Monday.

The ruling party brought in Ajay Maken and C P Joshi as the new general secretaries of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) after they resigned from Singh’s cabinet on Saturday and Sunday respectively.  Ambika Soni and Gurudas Kamat were also inducted into the AICC as general secretaries, while Ghulam Nabi Azad and Oscar Fernandes were dropped.

While Azad already holds the health portfolio, Fernandes may be inducted into council of ministers on Monday. Meenakshi Natarajan, a close aide of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, may get a Minister of State berth.

While Fernandes is likely to get road transport and highways ministry, Union Labour Minister Mallikarjun Kharge is likely to be shifted to the railways ministry. The reconstitution of the AICC on Sunday and the imminent reshuffle of the Union Cabinet on Monday are likely to be the last such exercises before the upcoming assembly elections in Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Mizoram as well as the parliamentary polls next year.

With Rahul Gandhi playing an active role in restructuring the party’s central organisation, the average age of the Congress Working Committee, the apex policy making body of the party, came down to 52.

Though Congress president Sonia Gandhi retained Ahmed Patel as her political secretary, Soni too was given the responsibility of managing the office of the party supremo.

She would now also look after the party organisation in Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand. While Krishna has found a place as a permanent invitee in the reconstituted Congress Working Committee, Wasnik has been appointed general secretary and was given the responsibility of overseeing the party’s affairs in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Lakshadweep.

Kamat, who was sulking for not getting a cabinet berth, was assigned the responsibility of poll-bound Rajasthan, in addition to Gujarat and Union Territories of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu.

Maken replaced Janardan Dwivedi as the head of the party’s media department that has now been rechristened as communication, publicity and publication department. Dwivedi will take over from Fernandes the responsibility of organising the AICC sessions and CWC meetings as well as managing organisational elections.

Madhusudan Mistry, who was in charge of the Congress in Karnataka, was rewarded for doing his bit in scripting the party’s victory in the assembly polls. He was given the responsibility of politically important Uttar Pradesh apart from overseeing the functioning of the Central Election Committee. 

Janardan Dwivedi, who was the Congress’s chief spokesman till Sunday, said that Azad had not found a place in the reconstituted AICC, as the party had decided in its Chintan Shivir in Jaipur last January that a person should hold positions either in the government or in the organisation.

Apart from Congress president, vice-president and Prime Minister, 21-member CWC included A K Antony, Ahmed Patel, Mohan Prakash, B K Hariprasad and Motilal Vora, who was also retained as treasurer of the AICC. The CWC also has 15 permanent invitees and five special invitees. Dwivedi said that four vacancies in the CWC would be filled up later.