press trust of india
NEW DELHI, 16 JUNE: Constituting Rahul Gandhi’s team for the 2014 Lok Sabha battle, Congress today brought in former Union Ministers Ajay Maken and C P Joshi, along with Ms Ambika Soni and Mr Gurudas Kamat, as general secretaries and dropped Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad and Mr Oscar Fernandes.
Making large-scale changes in the organisation, Congress president Sonia Gandhi retained Mr Ahmed Patel as her political secretary but significantly made Ms Ambika Soni the general secretary in-charge of the Congress President’s Office (CPO), a charge she had held earlier.
Mr Madhusudan Mistri, who  is considered close to Rahul, was given charge of the key state of Uttar Pradesh with Mr Digvijay Singh being given the responsibility of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Goa. Other general secretaries who were dropped included Mr Vilas Muttamwar and Mr Birender Singh.
Among the states in-charges who failed to get renomination were Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, Mr Jagdish Tytler and Mr Gulchain Singh Charak.
Those who have been elevated as general secretaries include Mr Mohan Prakash, Mr Shakeel Ahmed and Mr Luizinho Faleiro.
With the Lok Sabha polls less than a year away, Mr Maken has been entrusted with the newly-created communication, publicity and publication wing, which will now include the media department of the party.
The media department was being handled by Mr Janardan Dwivedi for the last six years.
Ms Priya Dutt will be assisting Mr Maken as secretary; the party has appointed as many as 42
Mr Maken and Mr Joshi had resigned as Union ministers last night.
A senior leader remarked that the changes showed that this was a new generation takeover, as the average age of the apex policy-making body of the party, the CWC, is now 52 while it was much higher earlier.
Rahul, who took over as party Vice President in January this year, has kept to himself the charge of front organisations with Prabha Kishor Taviad and Suraj Hegde to help him as secretaries.
Mr C P Joshi has been entrusted with party affairs in Assam, Bihar, West Bengal and Andaman and Nicobar Islands, while another former Union minister, Mr Gurudas Kamat, will look after Gujarat, Rajasthan, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Daman and Diu.
Besides the CPO, Ms Ambika Soni was given charge of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand.
Mr Faleiro has been made in charge of six north-eastern states except Assam, while Mr Mukul Wasnik, who had been in charge of Rajasthan for a record eight years, is now heading south, looking after Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Lakshyadweep.
Mr Hari Prasad retained charge of poll-bound Chhattisgarh and was also given charge of Jharkhand and Orissa. Mr Mohan Prakash retained Mahar-ashtra and was also been given poll-bound Madhya Pradesh.
Mr Shakeel Ahmed is general secretary in charge of Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Chandigarh. Mr Moti Lal Vora has been retained as treasurer and also in-charge, administration.
Former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Union minister Beni Prasad Verma, a known detractor of Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, and former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Ajit Jogi have been made permanent invitees to the CWC.
Finance minister P Chidambaram will continue as permanent invitee, so also former ministers Murli Deora and S M Krishna.
Mr Anil Shastri, Mr Raj Babbar, Mr Rashid Masood, Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee and Mr G Sanjeeva Reddy were made Special Invitees.