Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: In the run-up to 2014 General Elections, Union ministers P Chidambaram, Salman Khurshid, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma and AICC general secretary Mukul Wasnik have been named as senior Congress spokespersons.
The party appointed five senior spokespersons and 13 spokespersons, according to an official release. The release said party president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi approved the appointments.
Shashi Tharoor, Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Jyotiraditya Scindia are among 13 spokespersons chosen by the party. Notably, Shashi Tharoor is in the thick of media glare after his wife Sunanda Pushkar`s sudden death. Singhvi, who was dropped over a CD controversy in May 2012, is back too.
Bhakta Charan Das has been dropped from the list.
The party on Tuesday also appointed 24 "media panelists" to put across its viewpoint on television and other media platforms and 30 panelists who would speak on the national media on issues concerning states.
Meem Afzal, who was one of the national spokespersons of AICC media team is also out, but he has been accommodated in the team of television panelists.
The need to strengthen the media team of AICC was being felt for a long time and it has been an area of focus for party vice president Rahul Gandhi, who was instrumental in organising a series of media workshops and talent hunt to scout new media faces for Congress.
AICC general secretary in-charge and Communication Department chairman Ajay Maken said the party`s regular press briefings will be held five days a week in place of three days now and the time has been changed from 4:15 PM to 2:00 PM.
Union Ministers Jyotiraditya Scindia, Mahila Congress chief Shobha Oza, former UPCC chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Haryana minister Randip Surjewala, former CLP leader of Gujarat Shaktisinh Gohil, Rajya Sabha MP Satyavrat Chaturvedi and Sanjay Jha are new spokespersons, while PC Chacko, Raj Babbar and Sandeep Dikshit have been retained.
The list of media panelists includes Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari, Minister of State for Home RPN Singh and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajeev Shukla.
The list includes Akhilesh Pratap Singh, Anant Gadgil, Ashok Tanwar, Balchandra Mungekar, Brijesh Kalappa, Chandan Yadav, CR Kesavan, Deepak Amin, Deepender Hooda, Krishna Byre Gowda, Meem Afzal, Meenakshi Natarajan, Mukesh Nayak, Nadeem Javed, PL Punia, Prem Chandra Mishra, Priyanka Chaturvedi, Ragini Nayak, Rajeev Gowda and Salman Soz and Sanjay Nirupam.
The panelists on national media on state issues include Abdul Rasool Khan, Abhay Dubey, A Narayan, Amrita Dhawan, Anil Bhardwaj, Barkha Shukla Singh, Bharat Kumar, Bhawana Jha, Chetan Rawal, Chitto Nysou, Dinesh Gundurao, Hilal Ahmed, Jaiveer Shergill, Jyoti Mani, Manik Tagore, Manoj Pandey, Mohammad Akbar, Mohit Sharma, Peter Alphonse, Pranav Jha, Ranju Ramawat, Rashmikant, Sachin Sawant, Sarwat Jehan Fatima, Shahnawaz Sheikh, Sulaiman Mohd Khan, VT Balram, Victor Keishing, Vidit Chaudhry and Vivek Bansal.
The decision to expand the panel of spokespersons came within days of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) meeting where leaders spoke of the party not being able to effectively highlight the achievements of the United Progressive Alliance government.
There was also a feeling among party leaders that it has not been able to take due credit for welfare schemes started by the UPA government.
Sources said the party was keen to increase its reach among people through various media.
Some leaders who met Rahul Gandhi after the AICC meet told him that there was a need to appoint "aggressive spokespersons" to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The party also has to contend with the growing presence of Aam Aadmi Party led by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
(With Agency inputs)