Punjab CM Amarinder Singh leaves Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s residence in New Delhi on Monday. (Express photo by Anil Sharma)
With factionalism raging in Congress-ruled states, especially Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, party president Sonia Gandhi on Monday stepped in by putting in place institutional mechanisms to ensure better coordination among senior leaders, and for implementation of promises made in poll manifestos.
The party high command intervention came on a day that Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and state Congress president Sunil Jakhar met Gandhi. Their meeting came against the backdrop of heightened war of words between Singh and former PCC chief Partap Singh Bajwa.
The situation is not very different in Rajasthan, where the frosty relations between Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Deputy Chief Minister and PCC chief Sachin Pilot are in the open, most recently over the deaths of infants at a Kota hospital.
In Madhya Pradesh, there is simmering tension between Chief Minister Kamal Nath and senior leader Jyotiraditya Scindia. So much so that, AICC secretary and state minister Umang Singhar, with tacit support of Scindia, had fought an open war with Digvijaya Singh, who had thrown his weight behind Nath.
On Monday, Gandhi set up coordination committees in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Puducherry. AICC general secretary in-charge for Madhya Pradesh Dipak Babaria will head the committee which will have Nath, Singh, Scindia, former PCC chief Arun Yadav, state minister Jitu Patwari and Meenakshi Natarajan as members.
In Rajasthan, general secretary in-charge Avinash Pande will head the committee and both Gehlot and Pilot will be its members. The other members include Hemaram Chaudhary, Bhanwarlal Meghwal, Deepinder Shekhawat, Mahendrajeet Singh Malviya and Harish Chaudhary.
In Chhattisgarh, the panel will be headed by AICC in-charge P L Punia. Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, state unit chief Mohan Markam, ministers T S Singh Deo and Tamradhwaj Sahu, Shivkumar Dahariya, Satyanarayan Sharma, Dhanendra Sahu and Arvind Netam will be the members.
In Puducherry, AICC general secretary Mukul Wasnik will head the committee, with Chief Minister V Narayanasamy and PCC chief A Namasivayam as its members.
Gandhi has also roped in senior leaders and appointed them to oversee the task of implementation of manifesto promises by the party's state governments. While former Union minister P Chidambaram will head the manifesto implementation committee in Punjab, Jairam Ramesh is the chairman of the panel for Chhattisgarh, former Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan will head the panel for Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh minister Tamradhwaj Sahu is the chairman of the panel for Rajasthan, and M Veerappa Moily shall head the committee in Puducherry.
Interestingly, Gandhi is yet to announce a committee for Punjab. Amarinder Singh, sources said, briefed her about the Punjab Assembly's resolution on the CAA-NPR-NRC, and his government's plan to approach the Supreme Court. Gandhi, it is learnt, told Singh and Jakhar to reach out the Dalits and the poor and convince them they will be at the receiving end of NRC. They, she said, will be at the mercy of bureaucracy and the government. Sources said she also expressed her concern of increasing cost of electricity in the state.