NEW DELHI: In an indication of reconciliation to G-23 leaders, Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday named former Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and his deputy Anand Sharma as part of a nine-member Political Affairs Group (PAG) nine days after the Nav Sankalp Chintan Shivir in Rajasthan’s Udaipur.
Besides PAG, Sonia Gandhi also announced a Task Force for 2024 Lok Sabha polls and a committee to coordinate the October 2 ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’.
Besides Azad and Sharma, Sonia Gandhi named Rahul Gandhi, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, Ambika Soni, Digvijay Singh, KC Venugopal and Jitendra Singh as the members of the PAG.
Sonia Gandhi named Sunil Kanugolu former associate of poll strategist Prashant Kishor for the party’s election management.
Besides Kanugolu, Sonia Gandhi has named senior party leader P Chidambaram, Mukul Wasnik, Jairam Ramesh, Venugopal, Ajay Maken and Randeep Singh Surjewala in the Task Force for 2024.
“Each member of the task force shall be assigned specific tasks related to organisation, communications and media, outreach, finance and election management. They shall have designated teams which will be notified subsequently. The task force will also follow up on the Udaipur Nav Sankalp Declaration and the reports of the six groups,” Congress said in a statement.
The decision comes nine days after Sonia Gandhi announced the setting up of two bodies in her concluding address on the last day of the three-day Chintan Shivir in Rajasthan’s Udaipur.
As Azad and Sharma have been included in the political affairs group headed by Sonia Gandhi, it is still unclear whether the party would send these two leaders to Rajya Sabha.
Congress is in a position to get nine to ten seats in the Upper House.
Sonia Gandhi also announced a central planning group for coordination of the Bharat Yatra which will begin on October 2.
Members of the group include Digvijaya Singh, Sachin Pilot, Lok Sabha MPs Shashi Tharoor, Ravneet Singh Bittu, Jothi Mani, Pradyut Bordoloi, KJ George, Jitu Patwari and Saleem Ahmed.
“Congress President Sonia Gandhi has taken, in pursuance of the Udaipur Declaration, extremely important decisions today. She has constituted a committee of seniors to advise her on various political issues facing the party and the nation,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said.
“She has also constituted a ‘Task Force- 2024’ to look at the various elections as also our preparedness in the run-up to the 2024 Parliamentary elections. She has also constituted a group to look at the various grassroots-level programs as also how to reach the last person in the line both in cities as well as in the villages,” he said.
“These are challenges before the Congress Party that we spoke about in the Udaipur Declaration. These are issues that we need to address, not only for the revival of the Congress party and re-building the connection to the grassroots, as Rahul Gandhi has said, but also to ensure that the politics of hate and division, hatred and manufactured agendas that is being propagated by the BJP is countered effectively by the historical responsibility, bestowed upon the Indian National Congress by the people as also by our legacy of the freedom movement,” the senior Congress leader said.
“The first meeting of ‘Task Force- 2024’ as it was constituted today, took place today itself. We have decided that we will continue to meet every 72 hours or more and we will prepare a detailed plan on each of the subjects: organisation, finances, media communication and strategy, grassroots connect, election management and other issues that come up for our consideration,” he said.