Saturday, May 3, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Sonia revamps Congress
Appoints PAC, 2 more gen secys, Ambika relieved
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 2
Gearing up the party for the Assembly elections later this year and the Lok Sabha poll, Congress President Sonia Gandhi today inducted two more general secretaries, expanded the Congress Working Committee and created a 12-member Political Affairs Committee for regular interaction on the party’s political strategy.

The two new general secretaries are Mr Nawal Kishore Sharma and Mr R. K. Dhawan while former Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and Ms Meira Kumar, daughter of Jagjivan Ram, have been inducted into the Working Committee. Mr Nawal Kishore Sharma has also been made a member of the Working Committee.

Ms Ambika Soni has been relieved of her charge as political secretary. Senior party leader from Gujarat Ahmed Patel alone will remain as the political secretary to the Congress President. Ms Soni will no longer be in charge of Kerala where the party faced a serious rebellion led by senior leader K. Karunakaran. She would continue to be chairperson of the Media Committee and general secretary in-charge of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir.

Mr Motilal Vora, who has been handling Uttar Pradesh, will now only hold the post of party treasurer.

In a departure from the norm of general secretaries alone being in charge of states, Ms Gandhi has allocated states to CWC members Ghulam Nabi Azad, Vilasrao Deshmukh and Salman Kursheed and to Mr Ahmed Patel who will be in charge of Delhi and Kerala.

Mr Azad will be in charge of Andhra Pradesh, Uttaranchal and Himachal Pradesh while Gujarat and Chhattisgarh will be looked after by Mr Deshmukh. Mr Kursheed, as CWC invitee, will hold independent charge of the north-eastern states of Mizoram, Meghalaya, Sikkim and Tripura in addition to being in charge of implementation of the party’s policies in the northern states.

As per the allocation of states to the general secretaries, Mr Nawal Kishore sharma will be in charge of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.

Mr Kamal Nath, who was in charge of the party when it lost the recent Gujarat Assembly elections, will now look after Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, West Bengal and Orissa.

The responsibilities of the other general secretaries are as follows: Ms Mohsina Kidwai, general secretary in charge of Punjab, Chandigarh and Assam, Mr R. K. Dhawan (Bihar and Jharkhand), Mr Vyalar Ravi (Maharashtra and Karnataka), Mr Oscar Fernandes (Working Committee, AICC meetings, Central Election Committee, all departments and cells), and Mr Mukul Wasnik (in charge of frontal organisations).

Mr Pranab Mukherjee and Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad will continue to hold the posts of Pradesh Congress Committee presidents of West Bengal and Jammu and Kashmir, respectively.

The Political Affairs Committee, which will be chaired by Ms Gandhi, has Dr Manmohan Singh, Mr Shivraj Patil, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, Mr Arjun Singh, Mr Natwar Singh, Mr Karan Singh, Mr Buta Singh, Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mr P. R. Dasmunshi , Mr S. Jaipal Reddy, Mr Ahmed Patel and Ms Ambika Soni as members. Mr Janardhan Dwivedi and Begum Noor Bano, MP from UP and Bijoya Krishna Handique, MP from Assam, are the special invitees to the CWC.

Former union minister L. P. Sahi has been dropped from the CWC but has been accommodated in the Central Election Committee as member. Replying to questions, Ms Soni brushed aside suggestions that the PAC would act as a “super-CWC.’’

While former union ministers C. K. Jaffer Sharief and P. Shiv Shankar have been made Chairmen of Minorities and OBC departments of the party, respectively, Dr Manmohan Singh will head the party’s Kashmir Affairs Committee which has Mr Pranab Mukherjee, Mr Arjun Singh, Mr Karan Singh, Mr Natwar Singh, Mr M L Fotedar, Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mr Saifudin Soz, Mr K. K. Tewari, Mr J. N. Dixit, Mr Ahmed Patel and Ms Ambika Soni as members.

The Economic Affairs Department of the party, headed by Dr Manmohan Singh, has Mr Arjunsen Gupta as vice-chairman, Mr Jyotiraditya as a member and Mr Jairam Ramesh as secretary.

The Foreign Affairs Department, headed by Mr Natwar Singh, has Mr J. N. Dixit as vice-chairperson who will also coordinate issues on national security. Mr Anand Sharma is a member and Mr Aneil Mathrani secretary of the department. Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar will be chairperson of the Political Training Department as also the Department of Policy Planning and Coordination.

The SC and ST departments have been seggregated with Mr Hemanand Biswal heading the ST unit and Mr G Venkatswami heading the SC department. Mr K. D .Sultanpuri, a former MP from Himachal Pradesh, has been made the co-chairman of the SC department. Mr Iqbal Singh will be secretary assisting Mr R. K. Dhawan while Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, who has been made secretary, will assist Mr Vilasrao Deshmukh.

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