New Delhi, Nov. 15: Rahul Gandhi will head the Congress coordination committee that will oversee preparations for the next general election, the decision carrying an implicit message that he would now work as the Number Two in organisational matters.
Rahul so far only held charge of frontal organisations but as head of the committee, announced today by Sonia Gandhi, he will be supervising what happens to be the party's main task in the immediate future. The elections are due in 2014.
Sources said the latest arrangement was a message to party general secretaries and state unit chiefs that they must report to Rahul on organisational matters. It isn't clear whether the party still plans to formally declare Rahul as its Number Two.
The committee includes Ahmed Patel, Janardan Dwivedi, Digvijaya Singh, Madhusudan Mistry and Jairam Ramesh.
Sonia also formed two sub-groups headed by A.K. Antony, one for pre-poll alliances and the other for the election manifesto and government programmes. Both panels will report to the coordination committee.
Ambika Soni's exclusion from all these panels raised some eyebrows but sources said she would be given an assignment soon.
The sub-group for pre-poll alliances includes Veerappa Moily, Mukul Wasnik, Suresh Pachauri, Jitendra Singh and Mohan Prakash. The other sub-group includes P. Chidambaram, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Anand Sharma, Salman Khurshid, Sandeep Dikshit, Ajit Jogi, Renuka Chaudhary, P.L. Punia and special invitee Mohan Gopal, who is associated with the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation.
Barb at CAG
The government is disappointed at the poor collections from the Supreme Court-ordered 2G auction but has found in it ammo against the CAG, which had claimed a presumptive loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore from the spectrum controversy.
Although telecom minister Kapil Sibal said the government did not want to score a point, information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari asked sarcastically: "Mr CAG, where is the 1.76 lakh crore?"
His acerbic tone is being seen as a sign of the government's frustration at the CAG's propensity to declare loss estimates without a firm basis. The group of ministers on media affairs will present its views tomorrow on the auction flop.
"The Opposition made this (the loss figure) its holy grail for the last two years.... It should apologise now," Tewari said.
Digvijaya too questioned the CAG report and demanded its figures be re-evaluated. "The CAG should rethink its report and (estimation of the) loss as to how correct that data was," he said.
The government had set a target of Rs 40,000 crore for the action but it fetched just over Rs 9,407 crore. This has prompted ministers to question the CAG's claim.