Cong rejig to balance youth, experience

Reorganisation on basis of Antony panel report

Cong rejig to balance youth, experience

Congress president Sonia Gandhi faces the challenging task of striking a fine balance between young Turks and the old guard, as she looks to reshuffle her team on the basis of the Antony panel report on the electoral debacle.

The simmering tension between the young and the experienced hands of the Congress has been rearing its head time and again.

A Congress source said the leadership was awaiting the findings of the four-member informal group, chaired by former defence minister A K Antony, which interacted with party workers from across the country and put together a voluminous report on what went wrong with the poll campaign.

In its worst-ever defeat in the April-May Lok Sabha election, the Congress was reduced to 44 members in the Lower House, and left begging for the post of the Leader of the Opposition.

Though the election campaign was led by party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Antony has given a clean chit to him, Sonia and former prime minister Manmohan Singh, declaring that they were not responsible for the party’s defeat.

The Antony panel is learnt to have found fault with the Congress campaign, which paled in comparison with the Modi blitzkrieg in the run-up to the election.

Party veterans, meanwhile, put in a word of caution with the top leadership as it went about demanding explanation for questioning the Gandhi family. Punjab Congress member Jagmeet Singh Brar, who had suggested that the Gandhis take a two-year break from the leadership role, was suspended from the party last week.

As for the reshuffle, the BJP has taken the lead as newly appointed president Amit Shah unveiled his young team of 43 office-bearers on Saturday. Almost half of the new team is below the age of 50.

With Rahul on the back foot after the poll debacle, it is up to the Congress president now to announce a new team with a healthy mix of youth and experience.

The Congress Working Committee, which had met in May soon after the election results came out, had authorised the party chief to take “whatever steps necessary to revamp the organisation”.

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