Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh has been appointed convener of a small group that will “facilitate the coordination of various activities” related to the 2014 general elections.

The group will also serve as the secretariat for the Congress’ election coordination committee for 2014, headed by party vice-president Rahul Gandhi.

A statement to that effect, issued by party general-secretary Janardan Dwivedi, says Congress president Sonia Gandhi has approved the setting up of the group.

Mr. Ramesh, party sources say, will perform a role similar to the one that he had ahead of the general elections in 2004 and 2009, playing a key role in coordinating the activities of the central election office, as well as formulating party strategy.

Indeed, in 2004, Mr. Ramesh and Union External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid were instrumental, to a large extent, in crafting the Aam Aadmi campaign that successfully took on the BJP’s ‘India Shining’ line. These sources added that Mr. Ramesh would continue to be a Cabinet Minister — probably till mid-January, by which time the winter session of Parliament would be over: he is likely spend more time on party work as the elections draw closer.

In early 2009, in the run-up to the polls, Mr. Ramesh had resigned from the Union Council of Ministers to work full time for the party. Mr. Ramesh, of course, was already engaged in party work: he was asked to ensure effective implementation of the party manifesto in Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram and Jharkhand as chairperson of the manifesto implementation committees of these four States.

Mizoram is one of the five States that will have Assembly elections at the end of this year.

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