AICC reshuffle on the cards?

As Congress prepares for the fourth anniversary of UPA-II on May 22, the buzz of a reshuffle in the AICC has once gained momentum.

Updated: May 16, 2013, 16:42 PM IST

New Delhi: As Congress prepares for the fourth anniversary of UPA-II on May 22, the buzz of a reshuffle in the AICC has once gained momentum.

Top party sources said a reshuffle in the party is "on the cards".

The appointment of eight spokespersons in the first week of this month is seen as a clear indication of changes in AICC coming soon, political analysts said.

Some senior party leaders holding the charge of states have been made spokespersons amid indications that they could be discharged from the responsibility of states soon.

There is a likelihood of doing away with the practice of appointing those leaders as state in-charges, who are not general secretaries, party sources said.

The reshuffle could see a few general secretaries being given the charge of more number of states with the AICC secretaries functioning under them being given additional power in handing the affairs of the respective states allotted to them, they said.

In the last few meetings that Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi had held with party office bearers, a major complaint was that AICC secretaries are not given work by their seniors.

Among the general secretaries who are likely to be shifted out are Bihar and Punjab AICC in-charge Gulchain Singh Charak and Dhani Ram Shandil, who is now Social Justice and Empowerment Minister in the Himachal Pradesh government, sources said.

West Bengal and Jharkhand AICC in-charge Shakeel Ahmed and Mohan Prakash, who is having independent charge of Maharashtra, Jammu and Kashmir and Gujarat, have already been made party spokespersons.

The general practice in the party for last few years has been that once a leader is promoted as in-charge of some state, he no longer is a spokesperson.

However, a senior AICC functionary said there is "no such hard and fast rule", thereby indicating that some leaders can continue to hold both posts.

Several young Congress MPs and Youth Congress office bearers, groomed by 42-year-old Rahul could get prominent responsibilities in the reshuffle, party sources said.

Names of AICC general secretaries Ashok Tanwar and Meenakshi Natarajan, former Karnataka Youth Congress chief Krishna Byre Gowda, MPs Jyoti Mirdha, Manicka Tagore and Deepender Hooda are doing rounds for key party positions, sources said.

With Rahul making it clear that changes in functioning of the party will be brought gradually and by taking everybody along, there are indications that the possible reshuffle will be a balance of youth and experience.

The changes, if done, will be the first formal reshuffle in the party after the October 2012 reshuffle of the Union Cabinet ahead of which Union Ministers SM Krishna, Mukul Wasnik, Subodhkant Sahay and Ambika Soni had quit.

There has been speculation since then about Soni being given some larger responsibility in the party. Soni also headed a party panel on electoral reforms since then.

It is being keenly watched what responsibility will be given to party general secretary Digvijay Singh, who is in-charge of Uttar Pradesh and Assam.

The talk in the party circles is that another general secretary Mukul Wasnik could be moved to Maharashtra as the PCC chief at a time when the party is seeking a replacement for Manikrao Thakre.

With Rahul`s elevation as Vice President, there are currently nine general secretaries, eight independent in-charges of states and 34 AICC secretaries.

Jeetendra Singh, Meenakshi Natarajan, Shanimol Osman and Ashok Tanwar are among the general secretaries who are likely to see changes and elevation in their responsibilities, sources said.

The reshuffle could see replacement of some general secretaries as well as introduction of some new faces. There is also a likelihood of some leaders already holding positions in AICC getting an elevation.

Recently, PCC chiefs of Bihar, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh and Odisha have been changed.

Party sources said two to three more changes could be made in states. PCC chiefs of Haryana and Maharashtra are likely to be changed soon.