3 teams, 1 mission: Congress chief Sonia Gandhi sets sights on 2024 Lok Sabha elections

Eight leaders each have been named in the three panels, including G-23 leaders like Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Mukul Wasnik and Shashi Tharoor
Last Updated 24 May 2022, 11:59 IST

Steering the party post-Udaipur Chintan Shivir, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday named leaders to three crucial panels – the Political Affairs Group, Task Force 2024 to strategise for Lok Sabha polls and a planning group for Bharat Jodo Yatra – with the surprise inclusion of election strategist Sunil Kanugolu.

The three panels also have G-23 leaders or change-seekers like Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Mukul Wasnik and Shashi Tharoor while top leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra as well as Sachin Pilot, who is eyeing Rajasthan Chief Minister’s post, too figure in the panels. Digvijaya Singh and KC Venugopal are in two panels.

The setting up of the panels came days after Udaipur Chintan Shivir where the party brainstormed about the ways to overcome the electoral slump and organisational weakness it has encountered in the recent years.

Eight leaders have been nominated to the Political Affairs Committee that Sonia herself will lead. Rahul is a member of this committee along with Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge, Azad, Ambika Soni, Digvijaya Singh, Anand Sharma, K C Venugopal and Jitendra Singh.

The Task Force 2024 will not only look after the election strategy for Lok Sabha elections as well as upcoming Assembly polls but also act as a monitoring group to follow up on the Udaipur Declaration and the reports of the six groups that discussed issues at the conclave that ended on May 15. Sources had said that such a mechanism was not set up in earlier Chintan Shivirs leading to non-implementation of measures suggested by such conclaves.

The Task Force has P Chidambaram, Mukul Wasnik, Jairam Ramesh, K C Venugopal, Ajay Maken, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Randeep Surjewala and Kanugolu. Kanugolu’s induction is significant as it comes a month after election strategist Prashant Kishor refused to join the party and be part of an Empowered Action Group as the negotiations collapsed for his entry.

Kanugolu, who prefers to be in the background, and Kishor had worked together earlier for the Narendra Modi campaign before 2014 but had then parted ways. He was initially roped in for Karnataka and Telangana polls but with the Kishor plan not working, his remit was increased.

Each Task Force member will be assigned "specific tasks" related to organisation, communications and media, outreach, finance and election management. They will have designated teams which will be announced soon.

The Task Force also held its first meeting soon after its setting up. The leaders decided to meet once every 48-72 hours and then prepare a blueprint on issues identified for its perusal that will submitted to Sonia, Congress chief spokesperson Surjewala told reporters.

The Central Planning Group for Coordination of Bharat Jodo Yatra starting will have Digvijaya Singh, Sachin Pilot, Shashi Tharoor, Ravneet Bittu, K J George, Jothi Mani, Pradyut Bardoloi, Jitu Patwari and Saleem Ahmed as members. Members of the Task Force and Heads of all frontal organisations will be part of this group as ex-officio members.

Leaders from Karnataka who are in the panels are Mallikarjun Kharge and KJ George. Jairam Ramesh, who is an MP from Karnataka, and Sunil Kanugolu, who is an election strategist initially hired for Karnataka polls, is also in one of the panels.

(Published 24 May 2022, 06:56 IST)

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