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UP Congress announces new 14-member media team; seniors sidelined

The new-look team selected after a written test and interview is headed by Rajiv Bakshi

Archana Srivastava | Lucknow |

With old-timers shown the door, or at best sidelined, after ostensibly failing to qualify the written test and interview, the newly-constituted Uttar Pradesh Congress media team bears the stamp of youth. The new look media team of the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC), which is in sync with Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s emphasis on the youth, was announced by the UPCC president Raj Babbar on Saturday.

The 14-member Congress media team is headed by Rajiv Bakshi, who will function as the coordinator. Bakshi is the son of former Uttar Pradesh minister and veteran Congress leader Swaroop Rani Bakshi. The other members of the media team are Hila Naqvi, Onkarnath Singh, Ashok Singh, Suchi Vishwas, Zishan Haider, Umashanker Pandey, Saif Ali Naqvi, Anup Patel, Anshu Awasthi, Mukesh Singh Chauhan, Tanuj Punia, Vishal Rajput and Sachin Rawat.

Only four members from the previous UP Congress media team have been retained on the new panel. They are Hilal Naqvi, Onkarnath Singh, Ashok Singh and Zishan Haider. Incidentally, Tanuj Punia and Saif Ali Naqvi, sons of senior Congress leaders PL Punia and Zafar Ali Naqvi, respectively, have also made it to the new media team. They had appeared in the written test for the posts of Congress spokespersons held earlier this week. The second written test followed by an interview was held after it became clear that several old guards and previous spokespersons had failed to qualify the written test and interview held in June-end. The interview was conducted by All India Congress Committee spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi.

Four former UPCC spokespersons Virendra Madan, Amarnath Agarwal, Dwijendra Tripathi and Surendra Rajput have been made ‘special invitees’, albeit with a rider from the UP Congress chief that says, “(their) cooperation to be availed as per the request of the UPCC Media”. They had functioned as party spokespersons for the last 10 to 15 years and were there in the previous media panel.

While the old-timers have been dumped, a four member ‘media input division’ has been created for the first time. It consists of Subodh Srivastava, Prof Ajit Kumar Pandey, Dr Manju Dikshit and Dr Mansur Ali.

It was for the first time that a written test and interview were conducted to select the hopefuls as the UPCC made a determined bid to revamp the media panel ahead of next year’s Lok Sabha elections. The emphasis was on inducting new blood who could be adept in articulating the party’s viewpoint without diverting from its core ideology and political philosophy. Needless to say, the written test for the post of Congress spokesperson had caught several former spokesmen off-guard as the questions were based on the present political scenario and the central and state governments. Questions related to Uttar Pradesh, such as how many districts are there in the state, also figured in the written examination.