NEW DELHI: The Congress on Sunday appointed two veteran warhorses, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Kamal Nath, as in-charge of crucial poll-bound states, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, triggering fresh speculation s about the much-awaited organisational reshuffle.
The announcement comes amid calls for a “major surgery” from within the party following its debacle in the recent assembly polls in four states.
Azad, who is the leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, has replaced Madhusudan Mistry as the general secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh where the elections would be held in early next year.
The former Jammu & Kashmir CM appointment comes as the Congress makes a renewed bid to revive its fortunes in the country’s most populous state. The Congress has been in political wilderness in UP since 1989, following emergence of divisive ‘Mandal-Mandir’ politics and rise of the BSP, which took away its crucial Dalit vote base.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress had won just two seats in a state that sends 80 MPs to Parliament.
Party veteran Kamal Nath has also been appointed as the general secretary and given charge of Haryana and Punjab. He replaces former UPA minister and party general secretary Shake el Ah mad.
Kamal Nath’s responsibility in Punjab suggests that he is back in reckoning in the party circles. In 2014, despite being the seniormost MP in Lok Sabha, Nath was overlooked by the Congress as it appointed Mallikarjun Kharge as the floor leader.
Punjab will face assembly elections early next year.
Congress has roped in poll strategist Prashant Kishor, who managed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha campaign in 2014 and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s last year, to aid and assist the party in UP and Haryana units.