In an indication that Rahul Gandhi will be the face of the Congress in the 2014 general elections, the party on Thursday appointed him as the head of its election cooridnation committee. In his new role, the Gandhi scion will oversee forming pre-poll alliances, preparing the manifesto and formulating the party’s communication strategies.
There will be three sub-committees under the coordination panel, two of which will be headed by defence minister A K Antony and and Gandhi’s confident Digvijaya Singh, which will help the young leader execute his new responsibilities.
The coordination panel, as well as the sub-groups, will bear a clear stamp of the Team Rahul. Several young guns like Jitendra Singh, Deepender Hooda and Jyotiraditya Scindia have found their way into these sub-committees.
This is possibly the first time that the Congress has put in place a coordination committee for election preparations. Congress heavy weights like Ahmed Patel, Janardan Dwivedi, Jairam Ramesh and Madhusudan Mistry have also found their place in the panel.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi had announced at the recently-held Samvaad Baithak (dualogue session) at Surajkund, Haryana, that she would constitute an election coordination committee and three sub-groups.
The pre-poll alliances sub-group, headed by Antony, has Veerappa Moily, Mukul Wasnik, Suresh Pachauri, Jitendra Singh and Mohan Prakash as its members.
The sub-group on manifesto and government programmes has finance minister P Chidambaram, home minister Sushilkumar Shinde, commerce minister Anand Sharma, external affairs minister Salman Khurshid, Sandeep Dikshit, Ajit Jogi,
P L Punia and Renuka Chowdhury as members. The communications and publicity sub-group, chaired by Digvijay Singh, has former information and broadcasting minister Ambika Soni, her successor Manish Tewari, Deepender Hooda, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Rajeev Shukla and Bhakta Charan Das as members.
The Congress party is already in the poll mode as a number of state elections are on their way. Gujarat will vote next month, which will be followed by assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Delhi. The party will conduct a Chintan Shivir (brainstorming camp) in January next year, where the issue of alliances and the strategy for the 2014 general elections are expected to be discussed. Although most senior Congress leaders are of the opinion that Gandhi does not need any official designation as he is already the de facto number two in the party, a reshuffle of the parry organisation is likely within a week which could throw up some surprises.