Hardeep Singh Bedi
NEW DELHI: The announcement made by Congress President Sonia Gandhi for party’s preparations for the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections has indicated that Jammu and Kashmir’s top Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad is losing clout in All India Congress Committee (AICC). However, Sonia Gandhi has reposed her faith in Congress General Secretary in-Charge of Jammu and Kashmir Mohan Prakash, who has been named as a member of an important Sub Group to forge pre-poll alliances.
Azad, who is considered troubleshooter and has good relations with non-Congress party leaders, was not included in any of the panels announced by Sonia Gandhi. This may be a bad news for his supporters in the state who turn to him to solve their ‘problems’. Congress sources also say that “during the last Cabinet Reshuffle, Azad somehow convinced the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi about his continuance in the Health and Family Welfare Ministry”.
In fact, buzz doing the rounds in Congress circles also indicate that Azad may be asked to be a ‘full time minister’ when the much awaited AICC reshuffle takes place. Azad, who is Congress Working Committee Member, is General Secretary in-Charge of troublesome Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Pondicherry.
However, Congress tightened its belt for the battle 2014 and announced Congress Army for battle 2014.
Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi will be a key member of the Congress coordination panel for the 2014 general elections which also includes Sonia Gandhi’s political adviser Ahmed Patel, party general secretaries Janardan Dwivedi, Digvijaya Singh, Madhusudan Mistry and Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh.
Azad also didn’t find place in three sub- groups announced by Sonia Gandhi at party’s ‘Samvad Baithak’ (Dialogue Session) held at Surajkund, a town bordering Delhi in Haryana, on 4th November.
The important sub-group pre-poll alliances has Defence Minister A.K. Antony; Petroleum Minister M. Veerappa Moily; Minister for Youth Affairs Jitendra Singh, who is close to Rahul Gandhi, besides senior leaders Suresh Pachauri, Mohan Prakash and Mukul Wasnik, who recently left the ministry of social justice to work for the party.
The panel on manifesto and government programmes includes Defence Minister A.K. Antony, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Commerce Minister Anand Sharma. The Panel also includes Congress spokespersons Sandeep Dikshit and Renuka Chowdhury besides senior leader Ajit Jogi, MP P.L. Punia and special invitee Mohan Gopal.
The third sub-group on communications and publicity has Digvijaya Singh; senior leader Ambika Soni, who recently left the information and broadcasting ministry to work for the party; Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari, Power Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and Planning Rajeev Shukla and MPs Deepender Hooda and Bhakta Charan Das.