Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh was removed as the in-charge of the Goa and Karnataka units of the Congress on Saturday, April 29, while Madhusudan Mistry, who is believed to be close to the party's vice president Rahul Gandhi, was stripped off from the post of the AICC general secretary.
The decision comes in the wake of the Congress party's failure to form government in Goa despite having emerged as the single largest party in the assembly elections in the state. Singh had been severely criticised by members of the Goa Congress and also by the Oppision parties for failing to perform in the polls. Assembly elections in Karnataka are scheduled to take place in 2018 and it looks like the Congress does not want to go through the Goa experience again.
"Congress president Sonia Gandhi has assigned the tasks of looking after Karnataka and Goa affairs to new AICC teams. While KC Venugopal has been made general secretary in-charge of Karnataka, A Chellakumar has been made AICC in-charge of Goa," Congress General Secretary Janaradan Dwivedi said in a statement. However, Singh will continue to work as the general secretary in-charge of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana units of the Congress.
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The Congress had managed to win 17 of the 40 seats in the Goa Assembly while the BJP had won 13 seats. The saffron party quickly managed to form a coalition and reach the magical figure of 21 with the help of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), Goa Forward Party (GFP) and two Independents. The Congress failed to gather support having taken a long time to decide on post-poll alliances.
The BJP formed government in the state under the leadership of former defence minister Manohar Parrikar, who later took oath as the chief minister of Goa. Parrikar, in his farewell speech in the Rajya Sabha in March, took a dig at Singh saying: "My special thanks to honourable member Digvijaya Singh, who happened to be in Goa but did nothing so that I could form the government."
Mistry removed as AICC General Secretary
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Mistry was also removed as the AICC general secretary on Saturday and appointed instead as a member of the Congress' central organisational election authority, the Indian Express reported. The rules of the party forbid members of the central organisational election authority from holding other organisational positions. In 2016, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad had replaced Mistry as the Congress' Uttar Pradesh in-charge after the latter was removed from the position.
"My assignment is about conducting the party's internal elections to elect our national president... The next elections for the post of party president is to be completed by December this year. Since it is a full-time job, it is not possible for any member of COEC to handle any other organisational work. The party has reposed trust in me and that is why it has given me such an important work," Mistry told the Sunday Express.
Congress finally taking action
The decision to remove Singh and Mistry from their posts indicates that the Congress has finally begun the reshuffling process of the AICC. The party seems to want to constitute teams under those who have both experience and youth, having already given the responsibility of key states to Venugopal and Kumar.
Several top leaders in the party seem to be relieved that the high command has finally taken some action. "It (Congress leadership) had been sleeping for long. (It is) good to see some action and fixing of some accountability," a senior party leader told the Sunday Express. According to sources, several other changes, including appointment of several new state Congress committee presidents and replacement of some general secretaries, are likely be made.
Congress leaders have been demanding accountability for top AICC office-bearers for a long time now. They are believed to have demanded for a comprehensive overhaul of the AICC Secretariat.