Fate of Cong old guard unclear


The fate of Arjun Singh, Hans Raj Bhardwaj, Sis Ram Ola, Shivraj Patil and Saifuddin Soz is being debated in the party circles. All the five heavyweights, who are in their 70s, were cabinet ministers in the last government.
Party leaders are tightlipped about any new assignments for these veterans in the twilight of their political career. Arjun Singh, who stirred up a hornet’s nest by introducing 27 per cent reservation for OBCs in Central universities as the Union HRD Minister, was once a powerful vice-president of the Congress, a post which has been abolished. Asked whether the post of vice-president would be revived for Singh, a senior Congress leader dismissed the question saying: “The party Constitution does not permit it.”
The term of the Governors of Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Tripura and Kerala is ending in June while that of five other states—Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa, Haryana and Gujarat—is ending in July giving ample scope for political rehabilitation of these leaders.
It is, however, not yet clear whether they would accept gubernatorial assignments.
The party sources said a reshuffle in the party’s executive body AICC is expected to take place after the short session of Parliament. “The top leadership was busy in government formation and allocation of portfolios. The next focus will be on the organisation,” said a senior leader. But the leader was not sure how many of these five leaders will like to work for the party as general secretaries as they are “too senior” for the post. Keeping in view General Secretary Rahul Gandhi’s thrust on the organisation and the new found admiration for the “one- person- one- post” formula, four general secretaries will make way for fresh faces in the AICC. Ghulam Nabi Azad, who remained general secretary for less than a year, Mukul Wasnik, Prithviraj Chavan and V Narayansami have been inducted into the Cabinet.
Though Chavan and Narayanasami were part of the previous Cabinet also, it was seen as merely a temporary arrangement till the LS poll. As there are nine general secretaries now, only five will remain if the party strictly adheres to the “one-person-one-post ” formula necessitating the induction of at least four more leaders to the crucial post in the party.
The number of general secretaries in the organisation varies from time to time. The number could go beyond nine as a senior leader said: “The emphasis will be to have a mix of youth and experience in the organisation”.
Sources said that once the Parliament session is over, the fate of the five heavyweights will be decided.

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