Digvijaya dropped as in charge of Karnataka

Replaced by K C Venugopal

Digvijaya dropped as in charge of Karnataka

In a big organisational shake-up, AICC general secretary Digvijaya Singh was on Saturday divested of the charge of Karnataka and Goa. Singh has been replaced by former Union minister K C Venugopal, a trusted aide of Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi. While Venugopal has been tasked with winning the Karnataka Assembly polls in 2018, AICC secretary A Chella Kumar has been given charge of Goa.

Severe criticism
Singh’s handling of the just-concluded Assembly elections in Goa and subsequent developments had come under severe criticism from within the party.

Besides Venugopal, Congress president Sonia Gandhi appointed four AICC secretaries to supervise election preparations in Karnataka — former Telangana MP Madhu Yaskhi Goud, former Tamil Nadu MP Manickam Tagore, former Kerala MLA P C Vishnunadh and former Andhra Pradesh minister Sake Sailajanath.

These appointments, according to AICC sources, signalled a strong message to the rank and file in Karnataka to gear up for the election, which “would have to be won at any cost”.

Venugopal, a Lok Sabha member from the Alappuzha Parliamentary seat in Kerala, is among the most regular faces of the Congress in the Lower House.

Sources said Singh will continue to be general secretary in charge of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
The Congress had emerged as the single largest party in Goa in the February elections, but could not form the government as the BJP walked away with its pre-poll allies.

These changes come at a time when the party has been buoyed by the Nanjangud and Gundlupet bypoll results, which has strengthened Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s prospects in the state.

In Goa, Chella Kumar will be assisted by Amit Deshmukh, the son of former Maharashtra chief minister late Vilasrao Deshmukh. Interestingly, Kumar was Singh’s deputy in Goa and Karnataka.

AICC general secretary Madhusudan Mistry was also dropped from the post as he was made member of the Central Organisational Election Authority, with Mullappally Ramachandran as its chairman.

General secretary Janardan Dwivedi made it clear that since Mistry had become member of the election authority, he will not hold any organisational post as per the party constitution.

The new appointments indicate Rahul’s team is put in key posts ahead of the much anticipated transition of power in the Congress.

The new team will have to take a call on whether a new Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president has to be appointed in place of Home Minister G Parameshwara.

Another challenge for the team would be to pick winning candidates in Karnataka and help the Congress make a comeback since its string of losses after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Earlier this week, Ashok Gehlot was appointed AICC general secretary and given the charge of poll-bound Gujarat. He replaced Gurudas Kamat.

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