Sonia Gandhi sets up task force for 2024 polls

Meeting informally at Cong. headquarters, leaders decide to review party’s preparedness ‘every two-three days’

May 24, 2022 12:51 pm | Updated May 25, 2022 02:10 am IST

Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi addresses the concluding session of the party’s ‘Nav Sankalp Shivir’, in Udaipur.

Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi addresses the concluding session of the party’s ‘Nav Sankalp Shivir’, in Udaipur. | Photo Credit: PTI

Former Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, and former poll strategist Sunil Kanugolu are among the members who have been named as part of the party’s political affairs group (PAG) and task force for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls by Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday.

A nine-member central planning committee for the ‘Bharat Jodo yatra’, beginning on October 2 from Kanyakumari, has also been constituted.

All these panels are a follow-up to the announcements made by Ms. Gandhi in her concluding address of the ‘Nav Sankalp Chintan Shivir’ at Udaipur on May 15.

An informal meeting of the task force took place at the Congress headquarters, where leaders decided they would meet every two-three days to review the party's preparedness on key issues.

The presence of Mr. Azad and Mr. Sharma in the PAG committee is significant as both are members of the G-23, the ginger group pushing for internal reforms. Amidst G-23 demands for the restoration of the Congress Parliamentary Board for collective decision-making, the PAG is a compromise to partially accommodate this demand.

While announcing it on May 15, Ms. Gandhi had said, “the new group is not a collective decision-making body but will help me get the benefit of the vast experience of senior colleagues”.

Other members of this group include former party chief Rahul Gandhi, Gandhi family loyalists like Mallikarjun Kharge, Ambika Soni, Digvijaya Singh, K.C. Venugopal and Jitendra Singh.

Former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram is heading the task force that includes party strategist Jairam Ramesh, Mukul Wasnik, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Ajay Maken, Randeep Surjewala, and former poll strategist Sunil Kanugolu.

Mr. Kanugolu is a former aide of poll strategist Prashant Kishor and is currently handling poll management in Karnataka and Telangana, both States that go to polls next year. Unlike Mr. Kishor, he is known to keep a low profile.

Each member of the task force, with a dedicated team, will be assigned a specific area of expertise.

"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, grassroot connect, election management and other issues that come up for our consideration," Mr. Surjewala said.

Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh will head the ‘Bharat Jodoyatra’ planning committee that will also include members like Sachin Pilot, Shashi Tharoor and Ravneet Singh Bittu.

The yatra is a major attempt by the Congress to reconnect with the masses and is expected to cover 3,500 km across 12 States over five to six months.

However, some senior leaders described the move as “tokenism”. “As they say, it’s foolish to expect different results from doing the same thing over and over again,” a senior leader said.

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