Rahul forms Congress panels for Lok Sabha polls

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New Delhi, Aug 25 (IANS) Months before Lok Sabha elections, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday formed a nine-member core group committee comprising senior leaders such as A.K. Antony, Ghulam Nabi Azad and P. Chidambaram besides a manifesto committee and a publicity committee.

The core group committee also includes Ashok Gehlot, Mallikarjun Kharge, Ahmed Patel, Jairam Ramesh, Randeep Singh Surjewala and K.C. Venugopal.

Most members of the core committee are “old guard” of the party who have faced many electoral battles.

Party insiders said the core group committee will work like a “mini Congress Working Committe” and take a call on various issues relating to the Lok Sabha polls. The core committee is also expected to deliberate on alliances, which are crucial for the party to defeat the BJP in the next Lok Sabha polls.

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The meetings of core committee would be headed by Rahul Gandhi, who has been authorised by the party to take a final decision on alliances.

The Congress has to negotiate for a decent number of seats in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar which together account for 120 Lok Sabha seats and where the party is weak.

Party insiders said that formation of panels almost eight months before the Lok Sabha polls shows party’s intention to make an early start in the preparations, and finalise its manifesto after wide consultations to provide an alternative roadmap of governance.

The 19-member manifesto committee has Chidambaram, Ramesh, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Salman Khurshid, Shashi Tharoor, Kumari Selja, Sushmita Dev, Rajeev Gowda, Mukul Sangma, Manpreet Singh Badal, Sam Pitroda, Sachin Rao, Bindu Krishnan, Raghuveer Meena, Balchnadra Mungekar, Meenakshi Natrajan, Rajni Patil, Tamradhwaj Sahu and Lalitesh Tripathii as its members.

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The 13-member publicity committee includes Anand Sharma, Randeep Surjewala, Manish Tiwari, Pramod Tiwari, Rajeev Shukla, Bhakta Charan Das, Praveen Chakravarty, Milind Deora, Kumar Ketkar, Pawan Khera, V.D. Satheesan, Jaiveer Shergill and Divya Spandana.

Unlike the core group committee which has Surjewala and Venugopal as younger faces, the manifesto and publicity committee has more leaders from the pa’ty’s younger generation.

The publicity committee is expected to draw up a strategy to maximise party’s media outreach to counter the BJP.

Gandhi has also sought to balance the panels in terms of social composition and party’s geographical spread.

–IANS

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