Dissenters among Congress' panels on key policies

Congress dissenters among Sonia Gandhi's panels on economy, foreign affairs and national security

P Chidambaram, Mallikarjun Kharge and Digvijaya Singh will be part of the economic affairs committee

Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former PM Manmohan Singh. Credit: PTI Photo

Four of the 23 letter-writers seeking an overhaul of the Congress party on Friday found spots in three panels set up by party chief Sonia Gandhi to discuss issues related to the economy, foreign affairs and national security.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is the only leader who is part of all the three party panels while the controversial letter writers Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Shashi Tharoor and Veerappa Moily found spots in one each.

None of these leaders have been appointed as Convenor of the panels Committees on economic affairs, foreign affairs and national security.

Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram, senior Congress MPs Mallikarjun Kharge and Digvijay Singh are members of the finance panel which has Rajya Sabha Chief Whip Jairam Ramesh as its Convenor.

Sharma and Tharoor are a part of the foreign affairs panel which also has Saptagiri Ulaka as its member. However, AICC foreign affairs department Chairman Anand Sharma or former Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor were not chosen as Convenor of the panel, which went to another former External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid.

The national security panel has Azad, Moily and V Vaithilingam as members apart from Vincent H Pala, who is the convenor.

"The Congress president has constituted three committees to consider and discuss issues and policies related to the subjects of economic affairs, foreign affairs and national security," an official statement from AICC general secretary KC Venugopal said.

The dismal performance by the Congress in Bihar had once again brought to fore the demand for an organisational shake-up with senior MP Kapil Sibal, who was also part of the 23 letter writers, once again pointing fingers at the leaders.

On Thursday, Kharge lashed out at those leaders who were targeting the leadership, accusing them of weakening the party from within. "We have to fight unitedly. It has pained me that some senior leaders have spoken against the party and its leadership," he said while speaking at an event to mark the birth anniversary of former prime minister Indira Gandhi.