Rahul plans rejig in party structure

New Delhi, May 30: Government formation completed, Congress mandarins have turned their attention to restructuring the party. AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi, who has set a timeframe of two to three years to revitalise the Congress, plans to rejig its makeup shortly.

Apart from bringing in new faces to bolster the organisation in the wake of as many as five senior partymen taking over as ministers in the Manmohan Singh government, Rahul plans to go in for a massive membership drive and party elections. Sources said he has set a deadline of December 2010 for completing the polls.

Though Congress president Sonia Gandhi is very much in the picture, she has ceded a lot of organisational territory to her son. Rahul is currently focused on strengthening the party’s frontal wings such as the Indian Youth Congress (IYC) and the National Students Union of India (NSUI), but will also play a major role in reshaping the party. The sources said the Amethi MP was keen to follow a one-man-one-post formula while allocating work for new office-bearers. “Changes will be brought in the organisation soon,” AICC media cell chief Janardan Dwivedi said, but declined to divulge details.

The one-man-one-post policy has the twin advantage of office bearers getting more time to focus on their assigned work as well as creating more jobs for partymen within the organisation.

Ghulam Nabi Azad, Prithviraj Chavan, Mukul Wasnik, V. Naranayanasamy (all AICC general secretaries) and Veerappa Moily (CWC member) have been made ministers. They are all considered good organisational men and the party has to find replacements for them.

Some of the ministers stand to be relieved of their dual charges once the organisational revamp takes place. Ministers like Pranab Mukherjee, A.K. Antony, Ajay Maken and Moily are also in charge of the party units in West Bengal, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh respectively. Rural development and panchayati raj minister C.P. Joshi is also the Rajasthan PCC chief.

Rahul’s immediate priority will be focusing on states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharahstra and Tamil Nadu. Maharashtra goes to polls in October and Antony has expressed a desire to be relieved of his assignment.

However, Dwivedi said it could not be said with certainty that ministers holding dual responsibilities would be freed up. “But efforts are on to see that those who work in the government concentrate on their main job and those who work in the party take care of organisational work,” he added.

Oscar Fernandes, who was statistics and programme implementation minister and was dropped from the council of ministers this time, former minister from Kerala P.J. Kurien, IYC president Ashok Tanwar, (elected to the Lok Sabha from Haryana), Manish Tiwary (Punjab), Margaret Alva (Karnataka) and Suresh Kodikunnil (Kerala) are among the new faces likely to find a place in the party apparatus.

Besides, some new faces from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are also being considered.

Jena talks to PM

Apparently unhappy over his ministerial status, Congress MP from Orissa Srikant Jena did not take charge as minister of state (chemical and fertilisers) and is unlikely to do so till his grievances are redressed.

Jena had been a Cabinet minister a decade back in the then United Front government. He was sulking for being denied a Cabinet berth and has talked to the PM, who assured him that his grievances would be addressed.