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Rahul Gandhi made general secretary

Gargi Parsai

Sonia also inducts him into Congress Working Committee

— Photo: Rajeev Bhatt

Bigger role: Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi with partymen soon after he was inducted into the CWC in New Delhi on Monday.

NEW DELHI: Rahul Gandhi, 37, was on Monday appointed Congress general secretary and inducted into the Congress Working Committee (CWC) in an indication that the party is preparing for early elections and that the scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty is being groomed for higher and heavier responsibilities.

Party workers welcomed his appointment, bursting crackers and distributing sweets.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi also revamped the Manifesto Committee with the appointment of heavyweights including Pranab Mukherjee, Arjun Singh, Veerappa Moily, Digvijay Singh, Mani Shankar Aiyar, Arjun Sengupta and P. Chidambaram.

Signalling a generational shift in the party, Ms. Gandhi set up a new cell, ‘Group to look into future challenges’, in which several members of the “young brigade” have found a place.

They include Mr. Rahul Gandhi, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sachin Pilot and Sandeep Dikshit. Union Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh will be the convener. Following in his father Rajiv Gandhi’s footsteps, who became general secretary after having been elected to the Lok Sabha in the 1980s, the young Amethi MP is now ready to play a “larger institutional role” in the Congress, a senior leader said. Mr. Rahul Gandhi has been given charge of the Youth Congress and the National Students Union of India.

Several first-time MPs and three Ministers of State have been inducted into the All-India Congress Committee, triggering speculation of a reshuffle in the government. Sunil Dutt’s daughter Priya Dutt, Jitendra Prasada’s son Jitin Prasad, Ram Niwas Mirdha’s son Harender Mirdha, Rajiv Shukla, Abdul Mannan of West Bengal, Kodikunnil Suresh of Kerala, Madhu Goud Yashki of Andhra Pradesh, Mehboob Ali Kaiser Alka Lamba and Meenakshi Natarajan of NSUI have been made secretaries.

While Minister of State Ajay Maken, Arun Kumar of Andhra Pradesh and Bihar leader Ashok Kumar are the new faces in the CWC, permanent invitees Noor Bano, M.M. Jacob and Harikesh Bahadur have been dropped. Ahmed Patel continues as political secretary to the Congress president.

Veteran Mohsina Kidwai has been appointed general secretary in charge of Kerala, Lakshadweep, West Bengal and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and the Mahila Congress.

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